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;0- -.GELES 


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Assistant Professor o/ Political Science, University of Minnesota 



English and History Master, Humberstde Collegiate Institute, Toronto 



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A 43- 



ALTHOUGH the United States has exercised a 
most important influence on the course of 
Canadian history, but little attention has 
been paid by historians and political scientists to 
the mutual relations of the two countries. The ques- 
tion of the incorporation of the British American 
colonies in the American union has been a recurrent 
subject for political consideration since the War of 
Independence. In Canada, from time to time, it has 
become a vital political issue. But almost all the 
discussions of the question have been marked by the 
most bitter partisan feelings. The simple facts of 
history have sometimes been suppressed, and ofttimes 
misrepresented, or gravely distorted for political pur- 
poses. Even the biographers and historians, in some 
cases, have been tempted to accept their facts, and 
their judgments in respect to the same, from the 
opinions of interested politicians or the views of a 
partisan press. 

In this monograph, the writers have attempted to 
deal with one phase, and that perhaps the most im- 
portant one, of the annexation movement in Canada. 
They have endeavoured to discover the origin of the 
political and economic discontent of 1849, to trace out 

vi Preface 

the development of the agitation, to show the extent 
of its ramifications and its effect upon political parties, 
and to explain, in part at least, the divers reasons for 
the failure of the movement. A few paragraphs have 
been added in regard to the condition of affairs in the 
maritime provinces, and as to the state of public 
opinion in England and the United States. In order 
that the reader may better appreciate the spirit of 
the movement, the authors have thought it best to 
allow, as far as possible, the chief participants in these 
stirring events to tell their own contradictory stories, 
rather than themselves to set forth an independent 
interpretation of the historical facts. A study of the 
facts presented, it is believed, will serve to remove 
any preconception as to the superior quality of Cana- 
dian fealty, or as to the immunity of any political 
party from the insidious virus of disloyalty during 
protracted periods of economic distress and social and 
political unrest ; but, at the same time, it will bear 
the most convincing testimony to the self-sacrificing 
loyalty of the great body of the Canadian people 
imder the most trying circumstances, and to their 
firm attachment to the poHty and free institutions of 
the motherland. 



The revolt of 1837 — The grant of responsible government— The 
Rebellion Losses Bill — Bitterness of the Tory Party — Imperial 
preferential trade — Canadian Corn Act, 1843 — Adoption of 
free trade — Protests of Canadian Boards of Trade — Fiscal 
freedom of the Colonies — Abolition of English preference — 
Economic distress — The question of reciprocity — Representa- 
tion of Lord Elgin — The Navigation Laws — Petition for repeal 
of Laws — Memorial of Montreal Board of Trade — Address of 
Liberal free traders — Whig Government proposes abrogation 
of Laws — Opposition of Tory Party — Repeal of the Navigation 
Laws — Movement for American reciprocity — The Dix Bill — 
Enactment of Reciprocity Bill by the Canadian ParUament — 
English opinion in regard to the Colonies — The Liberal Im- 
perialists — The Manchester School — Influence of the new 
tenets in Canada — Opinion of Lord Elgin regarding annexation 
sentiment ........ pp. 1-48 



Political conditions in the Province — Collapse of the Tory Party — 
Dissensions among the Reformers — French domination — 
Origin of the British American League — Address of the League 
— The League and the Annexationists — Opinion of members 
in Lower Canada — In Upper Canada — Attacks of Reformers on 

viii Contents 

loyalty of the League — The Kingston Convention — Debates 
in Convention regarding annexation — Adoption of resolution 
of loyalty — The principles of the party, Protection, Retrench- 
ment, and a Union of the Provinces — Address of the League 
— Disappointment of the Reformers and the American Annexa- 
tionists — Annexation feeUng among the French-Canadians — 
Papineau and Le Parti Rouge Organs of the party support 
annexation — Attitude of the French Ministerial press — Growth 
of annexation sentiments in Montreal — Prospectus of an annexa- 
tion paper — Favourable attitude of several Tory papers — 
Changing character of annexation movement — A commercial 
issue — PubUc opinion in Quebec — Launching of a Papineau 
paper — Sentiment in the Eastern Townships — Opinion in 
Upper Canada — Loyalty of the Toronto Tories — Attitude of 
the leading Reform journals — The Canadian Independent — 
Criticism throughout Upper Canada of the policy of annexation 
— Tour of Lord Elgin ...... pp. 49-98 



Disaffection in Montreal — Alliance of the ultra-Tories and Rouges 
— The commercial interests demand a change — Preparation 
of the Manifesto — An Address to the People of Canada — 
Signatures to the Manifesto — Minority of French-Canadians — 
Battle of the Montreal press — The Herald, Courier, and Witness 
declare for annexation — The Gazette favours independence — 
The Transcript and Pilot support British connection — The 
French-Canadian papers divide on party lines — Organization 
of Annexation Association — Declaration of Papineau — Annexa- 
tion demonstration — Speeches and resolutions — Officers of the 
Association — Policy of the Association — Loyalty of the Reform 
Government — Letter of Baldwin — Protest of French Liberal 
members against annexation — Criticism of their action — Letter 
of Francis Hincks — Effect upon the Reform Party — Address 
of Montreal loyalists — Character of signatures — Dismissal of 
annexation officials — Criticism of action of Ministry by Tory 
press — Conduct of the Conservative leaders — Loyalty of the 
Orangemen — Opinion of the Governor-General — Criticism of 
Movement — Opinion of correspondent of London Times 

pp. 99-161 

Contents ix 



Policy of the Association — The Second Manifesto — Criticism of the 
Manifesto — Reception of Manifesto in Quebec — Annexation 
address and demonstration — Protest of loyaHsts — Pastoral 
letter of Bishop Mountain — Electoral struggle in city — Victory 
of the Ministerialists — Disappointment of the Annexationists 
— Sentiment in the Three Rivers District — Opinion in the 
Eastern Townships — Declaration of Mr. Gait — Campaign of 
the Annexationists — Organization of associations — Declaration 
of McConnell, M.P. — Annexation rallies in Rouville, Missisquoi, 
and Huntingdon — Opposition of the loyaUsts — Letter of Mr, 
Savageau, M.P. ...... pp. 162-207 



Loyal address in Toronto — Letter of Mr. W. H. Boulton, M.P., 
Revision of address — Attitude of the Tory press, The Patriot 
and The Colonist — The Reform press, The Globe and The Ex- 
aminer — The Annexation papers, The Mirror and The Inde- 
pendent — The Church — Resolution of York Reformers — The 
Hamilton journals — Opinion in Niagara peninsula — Demon- 
stration of loyalists in London — Public sentiment in the Western 
Districts — Attacks of Reform journals on loyalty of Tories — 
FeeUng in the Midland District — Loyal demonstrations at 
Cobourg and Belleville — The Kingston press — Opinion in the 
Eastern District — The Bytown papers — Annexation views of 
Prescott Telegraph — Negotiations of British American League 
for federal union — Conference with the Colonial Association 
of New Brunswick — Convention of League at Toronto — 
Debates on federal union and elective legislative council — 
Debate on annexation — Resolution against annexation — ■ 
Appeal to Annexationists — Reply of John Redpath — Dis- 
avowal of annexation by the League — The Clear Grits — 
Principles of the party — Clergy reserves — Attacks on Ministry 
by Clear Grit press — Election in third Riding of York — Annexa- 
tionist tendencies of Peter Perry — Opposition of The Globe 
and loyal Reformers — Election of Perry — Elation of Clear 
Grits, Tories, and Annexationists — Critical position of Clear 
Grit Party — Letters of William Lyon Mackenzie — Cessation of 
agitation among Clear Grits. . . . • PP 208-265 

X Contents 



Cobden's Bradford speech encourages Annexationists — Earl Grey, 
Secretary for the Colonies — Despatch condemning annexation 
— Criticism of annexation papers — Approval of loyalist press 
— The French-Canadian papers — Embarrassment of the Annexa- 
tionists — The Executive Council of the Association — The 
Third Address — Criticism of Address — Speech of Lord John 
Russell — Pronouncement of Lord Elgin on imperial relations 
— Municipal elections in Montreal — Success of annexation 
candidates — Waning interest of the Association — Protectionist 
sentiment of business community — Character of movement in 
Montreal — Election in Sherbrooke County — Annexation the 
issue — Nomination day — Victory of Mr. Sanborn — Opinion of 
Lord Elgin regarding the victory of the Annexationists — Re- 
action in the Eastern Townships — Attitude of the French- 
Canadians — Hostility of clergy to annexation — Aimexation 
and the Seigneurial system — Failure of movement among 
French-Canadians — Agitation of French-Canadians in United 
States for annexation — The New York Association — Address 
to French-Canadians — Organization of American Associations 
— Influence on movement in Canada — Political feeling in 
Upper Canada — Election in London — Speech of Hon. F. Hincks 
— Address of Judge Draper to Grand Jury — Criticism of Earl 
Grey's despatch — The Annexation Association of Toronto — 
Address of the Association — Disappointment of the Annexa- 
tionists — Manifesto of Colonel Prince in favour of independence 
— Petition for independence — Suspension of The Independent — 
Results of the movement pp. 266-327 



Renewal of negociations for reciprocity — Efforts of H. Merritt — 
Views of Lord Elgin — Mission of Hon. M. Cameron — Oppo- 
sition of the Annexationists — Reciprocity in Congress — Failure 

Contents xi 

of measures — Meeting of Legislature — Tactics of the Annexa- 
tionists — Speech of Governor-General — Resolution of loyalty 
in Legislative Council — The Legislative Assembly — Rejection 
of petition for independence — Attitude of the Ministry — 
Elective Legislative Council — Debate on annexation — Attitude 
of the Conservative leaders — Views of the Annexationists — 
Debate on dismissal of annexation officials — Onslaught of the 
Annexationists — Divided counsels of the Tories — Attitude of 
Sir Allan MacNab — Conduct of the Clear Grits — Defence of the 
Ministry — Victory of the Government — Defeat of the Boulton 
amendment — Course of the several parties — Annexation 
dropped — Reasons for failure of movement — Revival of trade 
— Influence of Lord Elgin — Divisions among the Annexa- 
tionists — Loyalty of French-Canadians — Influence of clergy 
— Annexation sentiment among Clear Grits — Lack of political 
organization — Unfavourable conditions in the United States — 
The slavery issue — Canadian hostility to slavery — Opposition 
of English Government and nation — Disappearance of local 
associations — Collapse of the movement . . pp. 328-360 



The struggle for responsible government — Chagrin of the Tories — 
Economic distress — Annexation movement among commercial 
class — Similarity of movement to that in Canada — Failure of 
the agitation ...... pp. 361-363 



Interesting colonial questions — The Times — Attitude of the Whig 
press — Views of the Radical organs — Attitude of the Tory 
press — Imperial ideals of the parties — Subordination of im- 
perial interests to English party poUtics . . pp. 364-373 

xii Contents 



American expansion — Declaration of General Scott in favour of 
annexation — Annexation sentiment in Vermont — Resolution 
of the Legislature — Resolutions of New York Assembly — 
Attitude of Congress — Hostility of Democratic Party to an- 
nexation — Influence of the slavery issue — Views of the Whig 
and Free Soil Democratic press — Opinion of the West — 
Principle of non-intervention — Absorption in domestic ques- 
tions pp. 374-384 

APPENDIX . . . . . .pp. 385-390 

INDEX pp. 391-398 



The revolt of 1837 — The grant of responsible government — The 
Rebellion Losses Bill — -Bitterness of the Tory Party— Imperial 
preferential trade — -Canadian Corn Act, 1843 — Adoption of 
Free Trade — Protests of Canadian Boards of Trade — Fiscal 
freedom of the Colonies — Abolition of English preference — 
Economic distress — The question of reciprocity — Representa- 
tion of Lord Elgin — The Navigation Laws — -Petition for repeal 
of Laws — Memorial of Montreal Board of Trade — Address of 
Liberal Free Traders — Whig Government proposes abrogation 
of Laws — Opposition of Tory Party — Repeal of the Navigation 
Laws — Movement for American reciprocity— The Dix Bill — 
Enactment of Reciprocity Bill by the Canadian Parliament — 
EngUsh opinion in regard to the Colonies — ^The Liberal Im- 
periahsts — The Manchester School — Influence of the new 
tenets in Canada — Opinion of Lord Elgin regarding annexation 

THE long and apparently fruitless struggle of 
the Upper Canada Reformers against the 
exclusive politicalprivilegesof the FamilyCom- 
pact drove the extreme wing of the party under 
Mackenzie into an alliance with Papineau, the fiery 
leader of the French Canadian Radicals, who, under 
the guise of a constitutional agitation for popular 
elective institutions, was marshalling the simple 
habitants into battle array against the racial ascend- 
ency of the English minority. Out of this alliance of 
the ultra-democratic parties in the two provinces 
developed the revolt of 1837. The constitutional out- 
come of the rebellion was a complete reorganization of 
the government of the Colonies under the Act of Union, 
1840. The political results were equally far-reaching 
and important : the re-establishment of the personal 

2 The Origin of the Movement 

authority of the Governors, the rehabihtation of the 
Tory Party — the stalwart defenders of British institu- 
tions — and the temporary demoraUzation of the Re- 
formers. Torn by internal dissensions and discredited 
by the rebellion, the Reform Party scarcely dared for 
a time to oppose the haughty supremacy of the Govern- 

Fortunately for colonial Liberalism, a gradual 
change was taking place in the views of English states- 
men in respect to colonial policy. The leaders of the 
Whig Party began to realize that the Liberal principles 
of the British Constitution could no longer be restricted 
to the motherland, but must be extended to the 
colonies as well. The several Colonial Secretaries 
were not averse to satisfying the demands of colonial 
Liberals for a wider measure of local autonomy ; but, 
for a time, they each and all were firmly possessed 
of the idea that the exclusive political responsibility 
of the Governor to the Colonial Office was essential 
to the permanence of the imperial connection. To 
surrender the control of the Colonial Executives to 
the Colonial Legislatures would necessarily involve, in 
their opinion, the grant of independence. This funda- 
mental postulate of colonial policy was admirably stated 
by Lord John Russell, one of the most liberal and 
sympathetic of British statesmen, in a speech in the 
House of Commons in 1837. ' ' Responsible government 
in the Colonies," he declared, " was incompatible with 
the relations which ought to exist between the mother 
country and the colony. Those relations required 
that Her Majesty should be represented in the colony, 
not by ministers, but by a Governor sent out by the 
Sovereign and responsible to the Parliament of Great 
Britain. Otherwise Great Britain would have in the 
Canadas all the inconveniences of colonies without 
any of their advantages." 

The rebellion of 1837 opened the eyes of the English 

*■ It should be added, however, that the first shorthved ministry 
after the Union was a coalition one, of which Baldwin was a member. 

The Origin of the Movement B 

Government to the gravity of the situation in Canada, 
and to the necessity of introducing some constitutional 
reforms. The special mission of Lord Durham pro- 
duced the celebrated report which is justly regarded 
as the most important constitutional document in 
the history of Canada. In this report his lordship 
recommended that " the responsibility to the united 
legislatures of all officers of the Government, except 
the Governor and his Secretary, should be secured by 
every means known to the British Constitution," 
But Her Majesty's advisers were scarcely prepared as 
yet to grant such an extension of responsible govern- 
ment as was contemplated by Lord Durham. How- 
ever, an important step was taken in that direction 
in a despatch of Lord John Russell, in 1839, in respect 
to the tenure of office of colonial officials. An even 
more important concession was made in the instruc- 
tions which were given to Lord Sydenham for his 
guidance in the conduct of the local administration. 

In addressing the first Parliament of the united 
provinces in 1841, his lordship declared : " The 
Governor-General has received Her Majesty's com- 
mands to administer the government of the provinces 
in accordance with the well-understood wishes and 
interests of the people, and to pay to their feelings, 
as expressed through their representatives, the 
deference that is justly due to them." But the fair 
promise of a more liberal administration was cut 
short by the death of the popular Governor, and the 
nomination two years later of a successor of altogether 
different type and principles. Sir Charles Melcalfe 
quickly quarrelled with his Liberal constitutional 
advisers over the question of the appointment of 
officials, forced their resignations, and threw himself 
on the side of the Tories in the ensuing elections. 
Thanks to the strenuous efforts of the Governor, who 
fought the campaign on the old loyalty cry, the Tory 
Party was restored to power with a very small majority. 
As a result of the victory. Sir Charles was enabled to 

4 The Origin of the Movement 

re-establish the former regime of the personal ascend- 
ency of the Governor. He was in fact his own Prime 
Minister. Fortunately for the Governor, a Tory 
Government was in power in England, and he was 
able to count upon the whole-hearted support of the 
Colonial Office throughout his administration. 

The restoration of the Whigs to office promised 
brighter things for colonial Liberalism. Several of the 
leaders of the Whig Party together with their Radical 
supporters were inoculated with the liberal principles 
of the Manchester School. The appointment of Lord 
Elgin as Governor-General in 1847 practically com- 
mitted the Whig Ministry in advance to the application 
of British constitutional principles in Canada. At 
the provincial general elections the following year 
Lord Elgin assumed a strictly impartial attitude ; and, 
as a result of the withdrawal of the accustomed in- 
fluence of the Governor, the Tory Ministry went down 
to a crushing defeat. His Excellency at once called 
upon the Reformers to form a government, A union 
of the French and English sections of the party resulted 
in the formation of a strong Coalition Ministry under 
the joint leadership of Lafontaine and Baldwin. The 
goal of the Reformers was at last attained. To their 
own chosen leaders was entrusted by a sympathetic 
Governor the responsibility of directing the affairs 
of the colony according to the Liberal principles of the 
British Constitution, 

Their defeat at the general election was a bitter 
pill for the Tory Party, They had been so long ac- 
customed to regard themselves as the only loyal party, 
and as such entitled to enjoy the exclusive favour of 
the Governor, that they could not readily become 
reconciled to seeing their unpatriotic opponents in 
office.' To make matters worse, with the loss of power 
they had also lost the political patronage with which 
the leaders of the party had fostered their own loyalty 
and rewarded that of their supporters. Their defeat 

* Letters and Journals of Lord Elgin, p. 71. 

The Origin of the Movement 5 

appeared to them in the light of a dangerous revolu- 
tion, as an overthrow in fact of a natural and estab- 
lished order of things. It was necessary to find some 
explanation for their undoing, some vent for their 
righteous indignation. Unfortunately for the history 
of Canada, a simple explanation was at hand, namely, 
French domination. At the general election in 1848, 
the Tories had failed to carry a single French-Canadian 
seat. Back of the Lafontaine-Baldwin ministry was 
marshalled the almost united strength of the French 
members and population. As a natural consequence, a 
strong feeling of resentment against the alien race spread 
throughout the ranks of the Tory Party inUpper Canada. 
The rumoured intention of the Government to 
introduce a Bill to compensate those who had suffered 
losses in the recent rebellion fanned this resentment 
into a flame. The introduction of the Bill shortly 
after set the whole heather afire with anger and in- 
dignation. The entire Tory press attacked the pro- 
position in the most reckless inflammatory manner. 
Mingled with violent denunciations of the Government 
and tirades against French ascendency were heard 
some low mutterings of annexation sentiment. The 
prophecy of Lord Durham had indeed come true ; 
some of the English minority of Quebec were prepared, 
if necessary, to sacrifice their allegiance in the hope of 
retaining their nationality. In Montreal, the bitter- 
ness of the English Tories exceeded all bounds. Several 
of the leading papers openly preached disloyalty, and 
some of them even resorted to threats of violence. 
The Montreal Courier, one of the leading Tory papers, 
rashly exclaimed : "A civil war is an evil, but it is 
not the worst of evils, and we say without hesitation 
that it would be better for the British people of Canada 
to have a twelve months' fighting, if it would take 
so long, and lose five thousand lives, than submit for 
ten years longer to the misgovernment induced by 
French domination." ' 

* Montreal Courier, quoted from The Examiner, April 4, 1849, 

6 The Origin of the Movement 

An equally dangerous and seditious utterance of 
one of the Montreal papers was regarded by Lord 
Elgin as sufficiently important and symptomatic of 
the attitude of the Tory extremists to warrant the 
serious attention of the Colonial Secretary. " The 
obvious intent of the majority, composed of Frenchmen 
aided by treacherous British Canadians, is," it declared, 
" to force French institutions still further upon the 
British minority in Lower Canada, The intention 
is obvious, as we have said, and we are glad that it is 
openly shown. We trust that the party of the Govern- 
ment will succeed in every one of their obnoxious 
measures. When French tyranny becomes insuffer- 
able, we shall find our Cromwell. Sheffield in the olden 
times used to be famous for its keen and well-tempered 
whettles ; well, they make bayonets there now just 
as sharp and well-tempered. When we can stand 
tyranny no longer, it will be seen whether good 
bayonets in Saxon hands will not be more than a 
match for a race and a majority." ^ On the streets of 
the city the question of annexation was freely discussed. 
The state of public opinion among the Montreal Tories 
was thus summed up by the local correspondent of 
The Toronto Patriot. " The only on-dit of the day 
worthy of credit refers to the undercurrent leaning of 
the Anglo-Saxons here towards an annexation with their 
brethren of the United States, unjustly and untruly 
attributed to them by Lord Durham in his time, but 
true as the gospel now." * 

In Upper Canada the feelings of the Tories were 
scarcely less bitter and exasperated. In the month 
of March, The Kingston Argus announced that a 
petition to Her Majesty to allow the province to be 
annexed to the United States was being circulated in 
that city.* Articles appeared in several of the staunch- 
est Tory papers, such as The Toronto Colonist and The 

' Despatch of Elgin to Grey, April 30, 1849. 

• The Patriot, quoted from The Examiner, March 14, 1849. 

' The Kingston Argus, March 3, 1849. 

The Origin of the Movement 7 

Hamilton Spectator, containing scarcely veiled sug- 
gestions of annexation. A correspondent of the 
Hamilton paper declared : " Rather than be trodden 
upon by French licentiousness ... let us seek an alliance 
with at least a kindred race, whose republican views 
are at least not so rampant. The sad alternative is 
painful to the loyal heart, but it is decidedly the least 
of impending evils. '\ A few days later The Spectator 
warned the English authorities of the danger of separ- 
ation. The Tories, it asserted, would never revolt, 
but neither would they submit to French domination. 
When they became dissatisfied with existing conditions, 
it would not be necessary for them to rebel, for the 
imperial tie would be severed without opposition. 
But in any case the responsibility for the final destiny 
of Canada remained with the English Government.* 
The Colonist likewise declared that the intolerable 
political conditions of the time would inevitably 
strengthen the demand for annexation among the 
commercial community.* 

Political feeling ran almost equally high in the 
legislative halls. In the course of the debate on the 
Rebellion Losses Bill, Colonel Gugy frankly stated, 
in reply to a pointed question from across the House, 
that, " if this Bill, as passed, be assented to by Her 
Majesty, it will have the effect of absolving Her 
Majesty's colonial subjects from their oath of allegi- 
ance." The speeches of some of the other Tory members 
were scarcely less incendiary, if not as seditious, in 

Some of the Tory fury was undoubtedly inspired 
by a genuine fear of French domination, but it is never- 
theless true that much of the agitation was worked 
up for purely political ends in the hope of embarrassing 
the Ministry, and, if possible, of intimidating the 
Governor into vetoing the Bill.' A few of the Tory 

* The Spectator, April 7, 1849. 

* The Colonist, July 3, 1849. 

* Letters and Journals of Lord Elgin, p. 75. 

8 The Origin of the Movement 

papers, realizing the dangerous course upon which 
the agitation was starting, endeavoured to check the 
seditious utterances of their contemporaries. " What," 
asked The Quebec Gazette, " would the Tories, and 
descendants of the United Empire Loyalists, gain as 
a political party by annexation ? They cannot 
sincerely wish for it. They may, however, by talking 
of annexation for the purpose of intimidating the 
Governor, destroy their own reputation for consistent 
loyalty, ruin the character and credit of the country 
abroad, and retard its prosperity by preventing the 
influx of British capital and population." The Toronto 
Patriot, likewise, scented the danger, and called its 
fellow Tories severely to task for their foolish talk of 
annexation for purely party purposes. 

The Ministerial Party and press did all in their power 
to minimize the importance and significance of the 
growing agitation. Their favourite weapon of political 
warfare was to asperse the motives of their opponents 
by accusing the latter of stirring up a spirit of dis- 
affection for selfish, political purposes. The Toronto 
Globe, in particular, scored the opposition in merciless 
fashion. " The Canadian Tories have not been a year 
out of office, and they are at the rebellion point. . . . 
Withdraw the supplies, and the Tory soon lets you 
know that it was not the man or his principles which 
he loved, but the solid pudding which he could ad- 
minister." ' The lesser Reform journals throughout 
the province faithfully followed the lead of the chief 
party organ. 

A somewhat similar view of the situation was taken 
by the English Government, which staunchly sup- 
ported the policy of the Governor-General and his 
advisers throughout the political crisis. In a caustic 
editorial, The London Times, the mouthpiece of the 
Whig Ministry, tersely summed up the state of 
Canadian affairs. " We continue of the opinion, 
therefore, that at present it is quite unnecessary that 

* The Globe , March 3, 1849, 

The Origin of the Movement 9 

we should throw ourselves into an agony of indigna- 
tion at the conduct of the Canadian Cabinet, The 
province, of course, is in terrible excitement. Sir 
Allan MacNab is now out of office, and has nothing 
to do ; so to satisfy a mind of more than ordinary 
energy, he has taken to agitation, and is lashing the 
whole colony into foam." 

When it became apparent that the Government was 
determined to force the Rebellion Losses Bill through 
Parliament, the Tories turned to the Governor-General, 
and besought him either to veto the Bill, or reserve 
it for the consideration of the Crown. Indignation 
meetings were held in all parts of the country, and 
petitions and resolutions protesting against the passage 
of the Bill came pouring in to the Governor-General 
from all sides. But all this agitation was of no avail. 
His Excellency determined to accept the advice of his 
ministers ; and, in accordance with the true prin- 
ciples of responsible government, to which he was 
pledged on his appointment, duly attached his signa- 
ture to the Bill. At once a furious storm of Tory passion 
broke loose. A wild mob insulted the Governor- 
General, stoned his carriage, and completely disgraced 
the country by burning the Parliament buildings. 

The Tory leaders resolved to carry the fight over 
to England. Sir Allan MacNab and a colleague 
accordingly set out for Westminster, in the hope of 
inducing the English Gk)vernment to veto the Bill, 
and to recall Lord Elgin. The attitude of the extreme 
section of the party in respect to the mission was 
decidedly menacing towards the home Government. 
They declared, in effect, that, if the British Ministry 
did not comply with their demands, so much the worse 
for the British connection. But unfortunately for 
the Tory Party, they did not properly appreciate the 
change which had taken place in the views of Whig 
statesmen in respect to colonial policy. Despite the 
able championship of Mr. Gladstone, and the staunch 
support of the Tories in the British Parliament, the 

10 The Origin of the Movement 

mission of Sir Allan was altogether fruitless. The 
Whig Ministry stoutly defended the course of the 
Governor-General, and refused in any way to intervene 
in what they properly considered a purely domestic 
controversy between the two political parties. 

But an even more insidious source of political 
discontent was working as a canker upon the loyalty 
of the Canadian people. The whole province, and 
particularly the Montreal district, was passing through 
a period of severe commercial adversity. The trade 
of many foreign states and of the motherland was, 
at the time, in a generally depressed condition, the 
effect of which was unmistakably felt in all the colonies ; 
but owing to local circumstances, largely arising out of 
the change in England's commercial policy, Canada 
was plunged into a slough of financial distress from 
which she did not seem able to extricate herself. 

The early commercial policy of England, as of other 
European nations, had been based upon the strictest 
mercantilistic principles. The primary object of 
colonization was to gain a monopoly of trade. Im- 
perial commerce was reserved, as far as possible, as an 
exclusive field for British traders and manufacturers. 
In time, the narrow policy of monopoly gave way to 
a more enlightened system of preferential trade,* but 
the old spirit of commercial privilege still reigned 
supreme. " The principle," said Earl Grey, " of 
placing the trade with the colonies on a different footing 
from that of other countries had been maintained up 
to the year 1846, and was generally regarded as one of 
unquestioned propriety and wisdom." * Although the 
colonies were chiefly prized as valuable markets for 
English exploitation, nevertheless the fiscal policy 
of the parliament at Westminster was not so selfish 
and one-sided as to exclude the colonies from certain 
reciprocal advantages in the markets of the homeland. 
The principle of a mutual preference between England 

* Shortt, Imperial Preferential Trade, p. 30. 

• Lord Grey, Colonial Policy^ vol. i. p. 7. 

The Origin of the Movement 11 

and the colonies served, it was thought, the twofold 
purpose of promoting inter-imperial trade, and of 
strengthening at the same time the loyalty of British 
subjects throughout the dependencies. 

The preferential duties of the colonies in favour of 
the motherland were moderate in amount, and did 
not impose much of a burden upon either England or 
the colonies on account of the essential difference in 
their economic status. England was not a food- 
exporting nation, and the colonies as yet had scarcely 
entered upon the industrial stage of their existence. 
The preference was of little advantage to England in 
respect to European nations, since, by reason of her 
superior industrial organization, she could manufacture 
much more cheaply than any of her competitors. On 
the other hand, the colonial preference in the English 
market was of the greatest importance to the colonists, 
as their products were excluded from the markets of 
other nations by high protective tariffs. As a natural 
consequence, the export trade of the colonies was 
almost entirely restricted to Great Britain. 

The principal products of Canada, especially com and 
timber, enjoyed a substantial preference in England 
over similar products from foreign countries. In order 
to encourage the production of colonial com. Lord 
Stanley, Secretary of State for the Colonies, introduced 
into parliament, and in the face of the strong opposi- 
tion of the Whig Party ^ secured the passage of, the 
Canadian Com Act of 1843, by which, in consideration 
of the imposition by Canada of a duty on American 
com, Canadian wheat and flour were admitted into 
England at about one-fifth of the rate levied upon 
similar products when imported from other countries.. 
The leaders of the Liberal party warned the Government 
that the inevitable consequences of the Act would be 
to build up a few favoured industries in the colonies 
upon the unstable basis of a temporary commercial 
advantage. But the warning fell on unheeding ears. 

* Egerton, British Colonial Policy, p. 331, 

12 The Origin of the Movement 

The Ministry were resolved to entrench the waning 
poUcy of protection behind the barrier of an imperial 

The people of Canada were equally heedless of the 
growing antagonism of the English free traders to any 
form of colonial preference. In their eager desire to 
take advantage of the manifest benefits accruing from 
the Act, they overlooked the danger of a reversal of 
policy in case of the advent of a free-trade government 
to office. The immediate results of the Act were 
beneficial alike to the agricultural and commercial 
interests of the province. Since the preferential 
tariff extended not only to Canadian-grown com, but 
likewise to American wheat, if made into flour in 
Canadian mills, it gave a tremendous impetus to the 
milling industry throughout the province, and especi- 
ally along the border. Large amounts of capital were 
quickly invested in various subsidiary undertakings, 
such as ship-building and transportation.^ An active 
policy of improving the internal waterways of the 
country by the construction of canals and the deepening 
of the natural highways to the sea was set in motion 
with every prospect of diverting a large proportion 
of the trade of the Western States through the mouth 
of the St. Lawrence. Numerous warehouses were 
erected at strategic points along the inland highways 
for storing and forwarding the agricultural products 
of the country to the English market. The harbours 
on the lower St, Lawrence were filled with English 
ships, and the merchants of Montreal reaped a rich 
harvest from the transatlantic trade which centred in 
that city. As a natural result of this abnormal develop- 
ment, a dangerous boom in real estate and a wild 
speculation in wheat broke out in the business com- 
munity. But the day of reckoning was at hand. The 
Canadian public had recklessly discounted the future 
in their intense pursuit of the almighty dollar ; they 

* Lucas, Historical Geography of the British Colonies, vol. v, 
p. 195. 

The Origin of the Movement . 13 

had foolishly left the changing sentiment of the British 
nation out of their calculations. 

For a time the fiscal policy of successive English 
ministers had been weak and vacillating.' But the 
doctrines of Adam Smith were taking a firm hold upon 
the minds of the wide-awake manufacturers of the home 
land, who saw in their economic superiority a splendid 
opportunity of capturing the markets of the world 
under conditions of free trade with outside nations. 
At the same time the high duty on foreign com, though 
somewhat relieved by the colonial preference, was 
proving a heavy burden upon the poor working classes 
of the English cities. The famine in Ireland gave the 
coup de grace to the policy of protection. But, 
however beneficial the abolition of the Corn Laws was 
to the English public, it proved, for the time being at 
least, disastrous to the interests of the colonies. The 
free-trade policy of the homeland dealt the trade and 
industries of Canada an almost fatal blow. In truth, 
the statesmen at Westminster, in endeavouring to 
relieve the prevailing distress at home, practically 
disregarded the dependent commercial conditions of 
the colonies, for which their legislation was largely 
responsible. They overlooked the fact that it was 
the commercial policy of England, and not that of 
Canada, which had rendered the interests of the latter 
almost entirely dependent upon the British tariff and 
the maintenance of an imperial preference. The 
Whig statesmen of the day were Little Englanders at 
heart ; they were much more interested in the pro- 
motion of English trade at home and in foreign 
countries, than concerned about the preservation of 
the vested interests of the colonies. 

With the adoption of the free-trade policy in England, 
the whole system of imperial preferential trade had 
to go.* The practice of granting English goods a pre- 
ference in colonial markets, as well as the reciprocal 

* Egerton, British Colonial Policy, p. 331. 
a Ibid., p. 328. 

14 The Origin of the Movement 

advantage extended to colonial products in England, 
was incompatible with the new commercial tenet of 
international free trade. England, it was felt, could 
not consistently seek an open market in foreign countries 
on terms of equality with the native producers and 
manufacturers, if she herself maintained, or encouraged 
the colonies to maintain, discriminating tariffs against 
the products of foreign states, and in favour of imperial 
traders, whether English or colonial. Accordingly, 
in 1846, the Colonial Legislatures were empowered by 
the British Possessions Act ^ to repeal any or all tariff 
Acts imposed on them by the Imperial Parliament, 
including the various discriminatory duties by which 
a preference had been hitherto granted to British ships 
and products. The speech from the throne at the 
opening of parliament, the following year, invited the 
colonies to rid themselves of the obnoxious system of 
differential duties, with a view to the benefit of colonial 
consumers, and the general furtherance of an en- 
lightened international policy. Instead of longer 
seeking to develop inter-imperial trade by preferential 
duties, the English Government now sought to foster 
international free trade by their abolition. 

The mercantile community in Canada were quick to 
perceive the destructive effect which the adoption of 
the policy of free trade would have upon colonial trade 
and industry. Scarcely had Sir Robert Peel made his 
celebrated announcement in the House of Commons, 
when a letter of protest was addressed to The London 
Times by Mr. Isaac Buchanan, a prominent Tory 
politician, who was at the time on a visit to London. 
In this communication,* he predicted that the with- 
drawal of the colonial preference would involve, on 
the part of England, national bankruptcy and the 
downfall of the monarchy, and on the part of Canada 
the repeal of the Canadian preferential tariff and the 
inevitable severance of the imperial tie. The over- 

* 9 & 10 Vict. c. 4. 

• The London Times, February 6, 1846. 

The Origin of the Movement 15 

burdened people of England would soon begin to object 
most strenuously to the expense of administering 
distant dependencies which were no longer of any 
commercial advantage to the mother country. On 
the other hand, " Any hint from England of a desire \ 
for separation will be cheerfully responded to by the I 
people of Canada, who will be writhing under the feeling \ 
that England has dishonourably broken the promise 
of protection to Canadian wheat and lumber made by 
every ministry from the timber panic of 1806 down- 
ward ; and will have got their eyes open to the fact 
that, as there remains no longer any but the slightest 
bond of interest between Canada and the mother 
country, no reason can be given why Canadians should 
risk their lives and property in defending nothing, or 
should allow Canada to be any longer used as a battle- 
field of European and American squabbles." As soon 
as the details of Peel's proposals reached Canada, 
measures were at once taken by the leading com- 
mercial bodies of the province to fight the proposals. 
Memorials were drawn up to the Secretary of State for 
the Colonies by the Boards of Trade at Montreal, 
Toronto, and Quebec, setting forth the serious injury 
which the withdrawal of the colonial preference would 
inflict upon the principal industries of the province.^ 

At a meeting of the Toronto Board of Trade, Mr. 
Workman, the President of that body, made a vigorous 
protest against the proposed legislation of the home 
Government. He had been informed that some of 
their fellow citizens, " from whom he had not expected 
such sentiments, had declared that there was nothing 
left for Canada but annexation. He implored those 
gentlemen to be very careful in the promulgation of 
their opinions or apprehensions." * The language of 
the Solicitor-General of the Crown conveyed an even 
more solemn warning of the danger of separation. 
" He did hope, however, that the commercial 

^ Colonial Correspondence, 1846. 
* Hansard, vol. 86, p. 556, 

16 The Origin of the Movement 

class would maturely weigh all the consequences which 
must result from the substitution of the United States 
markets for those of the mother country. It would be 
impossible but that such a change in our commercial 
relations would very soon bring about a change in all 
our other relations. Our interests would cease to be 
identified with the interests of the parent state ; our 
mental associations would assume new forms ; our 
customs and laws, aye, and our institutions too, would 
be assimilated to those of the people with whom we 
cultivated mercantile relations. There was a time . . . 
when he believed that patriotism had no connection 
with self-interest ; but he had lived long enough to 
change his opinion on that subject ; and he did think 
that loyalty had some relation to pecuniary considera- 
tions. If, however, by a course of imperial policy, 
over which the people of Canada can exert no possible 
control, they are forced into a new sphere of social and 
political attraction, they are not the culpable party," * 
The memorial of the Quebec Board of Trade also 
proceeded to point out the serious political conse- 
quences of a change of fiscal policy on the relation 
of Canada to the homeland. " That the question no 
doubt will suggest itself to you, whether the natural 
effect of this seductive law will not gradually, silently, 
and imperceptibly to themselves, wean the inclina- 
tions of the subjects of Great Britain from their true 
allegiance to the parent state, and bias their minds in 
favour of a closer connection with a foreign country 
through which the transport of their merchandise and 
produce is encouraged, and a consequent more frequent 
intercourse with its inhabitants produced," * The 
situation of affairs, as it presented itself to a well- 
informed foreign critic, was admirably described in the 
columns of The New York Herald. " The intelligence 
from Canada is beginning to be of an extremely inter- 

* Hansard, vol. 86, p. 557. 

• Ibid., vol. 86, p. 562; Colonial Correspondence, 1846; Porritt, 
Fifty Years of Protection in Canada, pp. 56-60. 

The Origin of the Movement 17 

esting character. On the receipt of the news of the 
proposed tariff of Sir Robert Peel, considerable dis- 
satisfaction was manifested in Canada. They say, 
that to abolish the duties on grain produced in the 
western parts of the United States must materially 
affect the commercial interests of Canada, and facilitate 
its annexation to the United States, It does not 
require any great sagacity or foresightedness to arrive 
at this conclusion, nor to perceive that it will be the 
means of hastening the annexation — a measure which 
time and the moral effect of our laws and institutions 
must finally consummate." ^ 

Notwithstanding the force of these warnings and 
representations, the British Government refused to 
alter its fiscal policy. The free-trade members of the 
House of Commons were not at all frightened by the 
threats of colonial separation which were borne to their 
ears from over the ocean. They placed little confidence 
in the good faith of these alarming rumours, the origin 
of which they ascribed to the selfish policy of the 
Canadian protectionists. The views of the Liberal 
members were admirably voiced by Mr. Roebuck, in 
reply to a speech of Lord Bentinck on the commercial 
policy of the Government in respect to Canada. " That 
very party, who had always pretended to such extra- 
ordinary loyalty and affection for the mother country, 
now, when they feared that some measure was to be 
adopted hurtful to their pecuniary interest, turned 
round, as he (Mr. Roebuck) had told them they would, 
and threatened them with annexation to America. 
It was not the people of Canada, whom they had 
deprived of all they held dear, — it was not the Lower 
Canadian French population who talked of annexation 
to America. It was the English, Scotch, and Irish 
merchants, who had embarked their capital in a 
favoured trade, supported as they believed by pro- 
tective duties ; and who, the moment it was proposed 
to do justice to the people of the country by the adoption 

* Hansard, vol. 86, p. 560. 

18 The Origin of the Movement 

of free trade, threatened this country with republicism 
and annexation." ' 

The era of modern colonial history dates from the 
acceptance of the principle of free trade as the basis 
of the fiscal policy of the motherland.^ The political 
consequences of this change of policy were scarcely 
less revolutionary than the economic. By the Act 
of 1846, Great Britain virtually surrendered her control 
over the fiscal systems of the self-governing colonies, 
save in respect to the treaty-making power. The 
limited right which Canada had enjoyed of imposing 
customs duties for local revenue purposes, subject to 
the careful supervision of the Colonial Office, was now 
extended into a complete control over the assessment, 
collection, and distribution of all the revenues of the 
colony. The period of commercial tutelage was 
ended. Canada was advanced to the status of fiscal 
independence. She was free to adopt such com- 
mercial policies as she might see fit, in so far as such 
policies did not conflict with the international obliga- 
tions of the motherland,' 

The local legislature quickly took advantage of its 
newly acquired liberty to alter materially the fiscal 
policy of the province. The budget of 1847 abolished 
the system of differential duties, and adopted the 
principle of a uniform tariff upon a revenue-producing 
basis. Henceforth no distinction was made as to the 
source of importation ; the same duties were levied 
upon the products of the sister provinces, the mother- 
land, and foreign states. Steps were subsequently 
taken for the improvement of the commercial relations 
of the province with the United States. A good be- 
ginning had already been made in this direction by the 
repeal of the discriminatory duties against the United 

* Hansard, vol. 86, p. 570. 

• Lewis, Government of Dependencies, Introduction by Lucas, 
p. xxxiii. 

' Davidson, Commercial Federation and Colonial Trade Policy, 
P- 15. 

The Origin of the Movement 19 

States, and the reduction of the tariff on American 
manufactured goods from 12 ^ to 7* per cent.* 

But a general reciprocity treaty for the free ad- 
mission of natural products was felt to be desirable, 
in order to put their relations upon a satisfactory 
basis. Negotiations were accordingly set on foot 
by the Secretary for the Colonies, at the instance of 
the Canadian Executive, with a view to inducing the 
Government at Washington to enter into a reciprocity 
arrangement. But the American Government was too 
much absorbed in the domestic concerns of the moment 
to give due consideration to the fiscal proposals of its 
northern neighbour. The Canadian people were quickly 
made to realize that fiscal independence, though of the 
greatest constitutional importance as a recognition of 
their new nationality, could not compensate them for 
the loss of the special advantages they had heretofore 
enjoyed in the English markets. The abolition of the 
preference on English goods in colonial ports was of 
small concern to the colonists, but the withdrawal of 
the corresponding preference to colonial goods in 
English markets struck a terrible blow at the pros- 
perity of the British-American provinces. The grant 
of commercial freedom was of little use to a country 
whose financial, agricultural, and industrial interests 
were paralyzed by the arbitrary action of the Parliament 
at Westminster. 

The fears of the Canadian Boards of Trade were fully 
confirmed. In one of his letters Lord Elgin feelingly 
spoke of " the downward progress of events ! " These 
are ominous words. Rut look at the facts. Property 
in most of the Canadian towns, and more especially 
in the capital, has fallen 50 per cent, in value within 
the last three years. Three-fourths of the commercial 
men are bankrupt, owing to Free Trade ; a large pro- 
portion of the exportable produce of Canada is obliged 
to seek a market in the States. It pays a duty of 

* U.S. Ex. Doc. No. 64, ist Session, 31st Congress ; Haynes, The 
Reciprocity Treaty with Canada of 1854, p. 12. 

20 The Origin of the Movement 

20 per cent, on the frontier. How long can such a 
state of things be expected to endure ? 

" Depend upon it, our commercial embarrassments 
are our real difficulty. Political discontent, properly 
so called, there is none. I really believe no country 
in the world is more free from it. We have, indeed, 
national antipathies hearty and earnest enough. We 
suffer, too, from the inconvenience of having to work 
a system which is not yet thoroughly in gear. Reckless 
and unprincipled men take advantage of these circum- 
stances to work into a fever every transient heat that 
affects the public mind. Nevertheless, I am confident 
I could carry Canada unscathed through all these evils 
of transition, and place the connection on a surer 
foundation than ever, if I could only tell the people 
of the province that, as regards the conditions of 
material prosperity, they would be raised to a level 
with their neighbours. But if this be not achieved, if 
free navigation and reciprocal trade with the Union 
be not secured for us, the worst, I fear, will come, 
and that at no distant day." ^ 

Temporary insolvency was the price which Canadians 
paid for the triumph of English free trade.* Much of 
the capital of the country was tied up in the ruined 
industries which the protective policy of the mother- 
land had called into existence. There was but a limited 
local market for the agricultural products of the pro- 
vince, and, in the neutralized market of England, the 
Canadian traders now found themselves exposed to 
the keen and merciless competition of their American 
neighbours, whose larger establishments and superior 
transportation facilities enabled them to undersell their 
less favoured competitors. Piteous were the com- 
plaints which arose from the millers and ship-owners 
of the province against the injustice of the policy of 
England in arbitrarily withdrawing the colonial pre- 
ference, without at the same time securing for them 

* Letters and Journals of Lord Elgin, p. 70. 

• Gold win Smith, Canada and the Canadian Question, p. 142. 

The Origin of the Movement 21 

an alternative market in foreign countries. The feel- 
ings of this important section of the community were 
well expressed by Mr. James R. Benson, a leading 
ship-owner of St. Catherine's, in a letter to William 
Hamilton Merritt, in which, after voicing the general 
dissatisfaction of the public since the passage of Peel's 
Act, he declared ^ : "If the former system of protection 
be not adopted by Great Britain, or she should not 
obtain for us the free admission of our produce into 
the United States market, I am well convinced that 
the result will be an alienation of the minds of the most 
loyal men in Canada from the mother country, and a 
desire to become a state of the Union ; it is already 
frequently asked if such was the case now, would our 
property become less valuable : the answer is un- 
deniable." * 

The question of finding a market for Canadian 
products became the most pressing problem before 
the country. With the loss of the English market 
the United States appeared to be the natural outlet 
for Canadian trade, but, unfortunately, that market 
was closed by a high protective tariff. The friendly 
attitude of the American Government fostered the hope 
in the minds of the Canadian public that a reciprocity 
arrangement might be effected with the United States 
for the free admission of certain raw materials of the 
two countries. For some time past, the subject of 
reciprocity had engaged the serious consideration of 
Mr. Hamilton Merritt, one of the most influential men 
of the Niagara District. As a result of his investiga- 
tions, he was convinced that the only relief for the 
deplorable economic conditions of Upper Canada was 
to be found in a reciprocity agreement with the United 
States. Both in Parliament and through the press, 
he ably championed the cause of reciprocity. In a 
convincing letter to Lord Elgin upon this, his favourite 

* April 20, 1848 ; Canadian Archives, 4995. 

• See also a letter of Mr. J. Keefer, of Thorold, April 19, 1848, 
to Mr. Merritt ; Canadian Archives, 4995. 

22 The Origin of the Movement 

topic, he pointed out that the higher prices which 
prevailed across the border " would produce dissatis- 
faction and lead to an early separation from the 
mother country." ^ The opinions of Mr. Merritt were 
shared by many members of the commercial com- 
munity, as well as by the great bulk of the farming 
population of Canada West. In view of the growing 
depression, it was little wonder that many of the 
inhabitants lost faith in the future of the province 
and were prone to regard their country's fiscal freedom 
as a curse, rather than a blessing. 

In a letter to the Colonial Secretary, Lord Elgin 
vividly described the " frightful amount of loss to 
individuals, and the great derangement of the colonial 
finances," which had resulted from the adoption of 
the policy of free trade, " Peel's Bill of 1846 drives 
the whole of the produce down the New York channels 
of communication, destroying the revenue which 
Canada expected to derive from canal dues, and ruining 
at once mill-owners, forwarders, and merchants. The 
consequence is that private property is unsaleable in 
Canada, and not a shilling can be raised on the credit 
of the province. We are actually reduced to the dis- 
agreeable necessity of paying all public officers, from 
the Governor-General downwards, in debentures, which 
are not exchangeable at par. What makes it more 
serious is that all the prosperity of which Canada is 
thus robbed is transplanted to the other side of the 
lines, as if to make Canadians feel more bitterly how 
much kinder England is to the children who desert 
her than to those who remain faithful. For I care 
not whether you be a protectionist or a free trader, 
it is the inconsistency of imperial legislation, and not 
the adopting of one policy rather than another, which 
is the bane of the colonies. I believe that the conviction 
that they would be better oif, if annexed, is almost 
universal among the commercial classes at present, 
and the peaceful condition of the province, under all 

^ Canadian Archives, 4995. 

The Origin of the Movement 23 

the circumstances of the time, is, I must confess, often 
a matter of great astonishment to myself." ^ 

The position of Canadian traders was made much 
more difficult by the unjust operation of the Navigation 
Laws, The policy of the English Government was 
carried out with reckless disregard of the rights and 
interests of the colonies. The British Parliament, in 
withdrawing the colonial preference, had retained a 
monopoly of the colonial carrying trade for British 
ships.* The Navigation Acts had undoubtedly proved 
of some slight benefit to Canadian ships in admitting 
them into the exclusive privilege of the West Indian 
trade, but this small gain was more than offset by the 
loss of colonial merchants through the higher freight 
to and from England on colonial and English products. 
So much were the freights enhanced by the British 
shipping monopoly, that it was extremely doubtful if 
the excess charges did not equal, if not exceed, the 
benefits which the colonists derived from the preferen- 
tial policy. Such at least was the opinion of some of 
the leading members of the Free Trade Association 
of Montreal, and a comparison of the rates from 
Montreal and New York respectively, to and from 
England, appeared to lend considerable support to 
this contention.' With the change in English policy, 
a twofold loss was inflicted on Canadian merchants. 
They continued to bear the burden of excess freights 
without the compensating advantage of English pre- 
ference. Thanks to the Navigation Acts, they could 
no longer compete on even terms with their American 
competitors in the English markets. The colonies, in 
truth, were unjustly penalized in order to enhance 
the profits of English ship-owners. 

The American Government was quick to take ad- 

* Letters and Journals of Lord Elgin, p. 60. 

■ Lucas, Historical Geography of the British Colonies, vol. v. 
p. 196. 

' See letter of a Montreal merchant quoted in The Patriot, January 
9, 1850. 

24 The Origin of the Movement 

vantage of the changing fiscal conditions in Canada. 
Prior to the abolition of the preferential duties in 
favour of English products, the merchants of Upper 
Canada had found it advantageous to draw their 
supplies from Montreal and Quebec rather than from 
New York, since the duties were from 35 to 30 
per cent, higher on importations through, or from, 
the United States. The repeal of the discriminatory 
tariff in 1847 was speedily followed by the adoption 
by Congress of an Act permitting the carriage of 
foreign and Canadian goods through the United 
States in bond without the payment of duty. 

The effect of these two measures was to throw a 
large part of the trade of the St. Lawrence merchants 
with the inhabitants of Upper Canada into the hands 
of the New York dealers, since the merchants of Toronto 
and the western districts now found it more advan- 
tageous to import and export their supplies through 
American ports, which, unlike the St. Lawrence, were 
open all the year roimd. It was indeed a great con- 
venience to the merchants of Canada West to be able 
to secure their goods at short notice in New York, 
instead of having to order them, long in advance, 
through the wholesale houses of the Lower St. Law- 
rence. Moreover, as we have seen, the operation of 
the Navigation Acts placed the business men of 
Montreal at a still greater disadvantage, owing to 
the higher freight rates to colonial ports. New York 
accordingly became the distributing centre for the 
business of Western Canada, and the American traders 
reaped a splendid harvest at the expense of the un- 
fortunate merchants on the Lower St. Lawrence. 
Loud and bitter were the remonstrances of the Montreal 
merchants against the differential operation of English 
and American legislation. They were suffering through 
no fault of their own ; but, on the contrary, were 
made to pay the penalty of the " inconsistency of 
imperial legislation." A vigorous demand arose for 
the abrogation of the Navigation Laws, coupled in 

The Origin of the Movement 25 

some instances with a request for the restoration 
of the system of preferential duties in favour of the 

The Provincial Legislature was alive to the danger 
of the situation, and lent a willing ear to the complaints 
of the St. Lawrence merchants. Although there was 
considerable difference of opinion among the members 
as to the wisdom of the free- trade policy of the mother- 
land, there was general agreement as to the necessity 
for repealing the unjust discrimination of the Navigation 
Acts. A joint address was accordingly introduced by 
the Government into the Legislative Council and the 
Assembly, professing the loyalty of the people to the 
Crown, and praying Her Majesty's Government to 
repeal the Navigation Laws, and to throw open the 
St. Lawrence to the free navigation of all nations. In 
the Assembly, an amendment was moved on behalf 
of the Tory protectionist members to add a clause to 
the address in favour of the restoration of the system 
of protective duties in England. The House refused, 
however, to dictate the fiscal policy of the motherland, 
and, after an animated debate, the amendment was 
defeated by the decisive vote of 49 to 14,^ The address 
was thereupon adopted without further opposition. 
In the Legislative Council the address was received 
with general favour, and carried without debate. 

The complaints of the Canadian public aroused the 
English Government to a sense of its responsibility 
for the serious condition of affairs in that colony.* 
The speech of the Lords Commissioners at the opening 
of Parliament recommended the consideration of the 
Navigation Laws with a view to ascertaining whether 
any changes could be adopted which might promote 
the commercial and colonial interests of the empire. 
Steps were subsequently taken by the Ministry to 
remedy the grievance of the colonists ; but, owing to 

* January 24, 1849. 

' Lucas, Historical Geography in the British Colonies, vol! v. 
p. 196. 

26 The Origin of the Movement 

the lateness of the session, and the pressure of domestic 
concerns, the Government were reluctantly compelled 
to give up all expectation of passing a Bill for the 
alteration of the Navigation Laws that session. The 
President of the Board of Trade, however, promised 
that the question should be brought to the early con- 
sideration of the House at the next session, so that 
Parliament would be able to pass a well-matured 

A rumour of the intention of the British Government 
not to proceed with the Bill for the amendment of the 
Navigation Laws soon crossed the Atlantic, and at 
once called forth a strong letter of protest from Lord 
Elgin to the Secretary for the Colonies.* The report, 
he stated, had produced a very painful feeling : " The 
Canadian farmer is a supplicant at present to the 
Imperial Legislature, not for favour, but for justice ; 
strong as is his affection for the mother country and 
her institutions, he cannot reconcile it to his sense of 
right that after being deprived of all protection for 
his products in her markets, he should be subjected 
to a hostile discriminatory duty in the guise of a law 
for the protection of navigation." His Excellency 
was confident that, " if the wise and generous policy 
lately adopted toward Canada be persevered in, the 
connection between the pro\'ince and the motherland 
may yet be rendered profitable to both, in a far 
greater degree than has been the case heretofore." It 
would be dangerous, however, to Canadian interests, " if 
provisions are suffered to remain on the British statute 
book which would seem to bring the material interests 
of the colonists and the promptings of duty and affec- 
tion into opposition." 

With the withdrawal of the measure to free the 
St. Lawrence from the baneful restrictions of the 
Navigation Acts, the gloom of depression settled down 
more heavily upon the city of Montreal. The views 

^ August lo, 1848. 

• June 15, 1848 ; Hansard, 1849, vol, 105, p. 71. 

The Origin of the Movement 27 

of the mercantile community of that city were ably 
voiced in a petition of the Board of Trade to the Queen 
at the close of 1848, which set forth : * 

" That the abandonment by the mother country of 
her protective policy is producing important changes 
in the commercial relations of the colony, which, unless 
regulated or counteracted by wise legislation, may 
lead in the end to consequences which every loyal 
subject would deplore. That the most prominent of 
the changes referred to is a growing commercial inter- 
course with the United States, giving rise to an opinion 
which is daily gaining ground on both sides of the 
boimdary line, that the interests of the two countries 
under the changed policy of the Imperial Govern- 
ment are germane to each other, and under that system 
must sooner or later be politically interwoven, 

" That being deeply interested in the trade and pros- 
perity of this province, and, moreover, in common 
with the great mass of the population being devotedly 
attached to the institutions of Great Britain, and 
desiring to see the existing colonial connections which 
unite us perpetuated, your petitioners most respectfully 
take leave to lay before Your Majesty the following 
representations : 

" I. The result of a total cessation of the differential 
duty on grain in England will be to make New York 
the port of shipment for the great bulk of the produce 
of Canada. 

"2. The port which is found to be most eligible for 
the exports will also be found to be the best suited 
fer the imports of a country. 

"3. The bonding system introduced by the American 
Government must have the effect of attracting the 
merchants of Canada to New York for the purchase 
of supplies, . . . and thus the ruin of the trade of the 
St. Lawrence . . . cannot fail to be consummated. It 
would be superfluous for your petitioners to point out 
the injurious effect which could not but result from 
* Quebec Gazette, January 8, 1849. 

28 The Origin of the Movement 

such a diversion of trade ; suffice it to say, it would 
create and cement ties of beneficial interest between 
Canada and the United States, and proportionally 
weaken the attachment which this colony entertains 
for the mother country. 

" Your petitioners are indeed aware that it has 
been asserted by a class of political economists that 
the colonies are a source of pecuniary loss to England, 
and that she might profitably abandon them altogether ; 
but your petitioners have too much confidence in the 
wisdom of Your Majesty's Government to suppose 
that such sentiments are shared in by them, or that, 
even were the proposition to be true, they would draw 
the same precipitate conclusion from it. 

" In nations there are interests infinitely transcending 
those of a mere pecuniary nature, and your petitioners 
would regard the integrity of the British dominions, the 
preservation of Britain's political power and influence 
as cheaply purchased by any pecuniary loss the colonies 
may occasion her. It is in this belief, and with the 
desire to avert the dismemberment of the empire, so 
far at least as Canada is concerned, that your petitioners 
at this time approach Your Majesty. They do not 
seek the restoration of the old system of protection ; 
on the contrary, they have no objection to the utmost 
freedom of trade compatible with the safety of the 
ties subsisting between the colony and the mother 
country ; but, having shown how that connection 
must be endangered when the measures of Sir Robert 
Peel take full effect, they will briefly point out those 
remedial measures which, in their opinion, would avert 
the evil, and continue to attach the province to England 
by the claims of interest, as well as of affection and 
duty. These measures, as far as imperial legislation 
is concerned, are : 

" 1st. The repeal of the Navigation Laws as they 
relate to Canada, and the throwing open the navigation 
of the St. Lawrence ; and 

" 2nd. The enactment of a moderate fixed duty, say 

The Origin of the Movement 29 

not less than five shillings per quarter on foreign wheat, 
colonial to be admitted free." 

The memorial proceeded to set forth in detail the 
material benefits which such a policy would confer 
upon Canada, by the diversion of the trade of Upper 
Canada and the American West through the St. Law- 
rence. An alluring prospect was held out to the in- 
dustrial interests of the motherland, that the increased 
revenue which would result from such an enlightened 
policy would enable the local legislature " to materially 
reduce, if not entirely repeal, the import duties on 
British manufactures." At the same time, the British 
public was confidently assured that the burden of the 
duty on wheat would not fall upon the English con- 
sumer, but would be borne by the unfortunate foreign 
producers. " A duty of this kind in favour of Canada 
would preserve the trade of the St. Lawrence, add to 
the revenue derivable from the St. Lawrence canals, 
diffuse universal satisfaction throughout the colony, 
and, what in the opinion of your petitioners is all- 
important, would continue to attach Canada to the 
mother country, thus perpetuating the present connec- 
tion, and preserving inviolate the British dominions." 

The language of the address was severely criticised 
by the Montreal free traders, as putting the loyalty 
of the colony on too low a plane. They professed the 
most self-righteous indignation that their allegiance 
to the sovereign should be placed upon a purely 
mercenary basis. Accordingly, a protest was prepared, 
which won the enthusiastic commendation of Earl Grey 
as " the most important document which had proceeded 
from a large commercial body since the famous London 
petition in favour of free trade." This protest, which 
was signed by many of the leading Liberals of the city,' 
set out by declaring : " We trust that the loyalty of 
the province depends upon something loftier than a 
mercenary motive," and then proceeded by a carefully 

* Including Messrs. Holmes, M.P., Boyer, McDougal, Holton, 
Grass, and Workman. 

80 The Origin of the Movement 

constructed argument to draw the sound constitutional 
conclusion : " We conceive that all we have a right 
to ask of the mother-country is to repeal the Navigation 
Laws as far as they relate to Canada, and to throw 
open the St. Lawrence to the navigation of the vessels 
of all nations, from which measure, coupled with our 
own energy and enterprise, we feel confident of being 
able to secure all that the Council of the Board of 
Trade expect to acquire from the re-enactment of a tax 
upon the bread of the people of the United Kingdom." 

But little reliance, however, could be placed upon 
the professions of loyalty of some of the Liberal free 
traders. In a private communication to their English 
correspondent, shortly after, the firm of Holmes, Young 
& Knapp, one of the members of which had taken 
a prominent part in drawing up the recent protest, 
declared : ^ " The feeling of annexation to the United 
States seems to be the most prevalent at present 
among our people ; could the measure be brought about 
peaceably and amicably, there is not a doubt but that 
three-quarters, if not nine-tenths, of the inhabitants 
would go for it. No country can expect to retain 
colonies under a free trade system, unless allied to 
each other by contiguity, or for the purpose of mutual 
protection. The commercial system of the United 
States now offers more advantages to the province 
than any other within view, but to avail ourselves of 
it is impossible without the question of annexation being 
involved." The Canadian public were generally dis- 
appointed at the non-concurrence of the United States 
in the scheme for reciprocal free trade, and, in the 
judgment of the writer, would not rest content until 
they had secured the free admission of their native 
products into the American market. There was, how- 
ever, " but one way to bring it about, and that way 
was annexation." 

The majority of the mercantile community, together 
with most of the Montreal papers, supported the views 

^ See speech of Lord Stanley in the House of Lords, May 8, 1S49. 

The Origin of the Movement 81 

of the Board of Trade, rather than the more reasonable 
judgment of the Liberal minority. The prevailing 
opinion of the business public foimd expression in a 
leading article of The Montreal Gazette (Tory), which 
declared : ^ " We consider annexation as the last issue 
on the board and only to be thought of after England 
has determined to persevere in treating Canada as a 
foreign nation, instead of as an integral part of the 
empire. We shall resist it so long as we see a chance 
of our affairs being placed on a proper footing without 
it. . . . But the die is in the hands of England." 

True to its promise, the English Ministry brought 
down a measure for the amendment of the Navigation 
Laws, soon after the opening of the session in 1849. ^^ 
moving for a committee of the whole House to consider 
the resolution of the Government, the Hon. H. 
Labouchere, President of the Board of Trade, stated * 
that, in the opinion of the Executive, since the pro- 
tection which the colonies had hitherto enjoyed in the 
markets of the mother country has been withdrawn, 
" it would be the height of intolerable injustice to 
maintain those restrictions (of the Navigation Laws) 
upon their trade which prevent them from enjoying 
the advantages of foreigners — an injustice which I 
think absolutely incompatible with the continued 
connection between the most important of the colonies 
and the mother country." By the surrender of her 
shipping monopoly, England would confer " a boon 
of incalculable value " on the North American colonies, 
and " rivet them by ties of gratitude to the mother- 
land " in the most effective manner. Parliament 
should not further delay to remove this colonial 
grievance. " They ought to be sensible of the patience 
and good feeling which the people of Canada had 
shown under the most trying circumstances ; they 
should ill repay that patience and good-feeling, if they 
did not embrace the earliest opportunity to show 

1 May 8, 1849. 

* November 14, 1849 ; Hansard, 1849, vol. 102, p. 682. 

82 The Origin of the Movement 

themselves anxious to set right a system so impolitic 
and unjust, which destroys the trade of the North 
American colonies, which destroys the trade of the 
inhabitants of the United States of America for no 
earthly object, which directs the trade from Canada 
to the United States of America without effecting any 
benefit in return, which injures the revenue of Canada 
by preventing the full use and employment of those 
canals which have been made there at so great an 
outlay, but which are now completely useless and 
unproductive, and must remain so as long as the 
Navigation Laws continue in force." 

At the very outset, the proposals of the Executive 
met with the strongest opposition on the part of the 
Conservative Party. The members of the opposition, 
however, were too busy defending the last surviving 
tenets of the mercantile system to devote much 
attention to the interests and desires of the colonies. 
Mr. Herries was the only speaker to consider at length 
the colonial aspect of the question. He charged the 
Government with a callous indifference to the suffer- 
ings of the colonists ; they had driven the Colonies to 
the point of exasperation, and had finally consummated 
their ruin by the withdrawal of colonial protection. 
The relaxation of the Navigation Laws, he contended, 
would not suffice to repair the mischief which the free- 
trade policy had inflicted upon the colonies. 

The battle was renewed upon the second reading 
of the Bill. Save for an interesting pronouncement 
of Mr. Robinson on the subject of imperial relations, 
and a few scattered references to the state of colonial 
opinion, the debate was strictly confined to the con- 
sideration of the effect of the abrogation of the Naviga- 
tion Laws upon the commerce and naval supremacy 
of England. The remarks of Mr. Robinson set forth 
in the clearest light the mercantilistic theory of the 
Tory Party in respect to the colonies. " He was 
satisfied that the ultimate aim of the United States 
was the possession of the entire American continent. 

The Origin af the Movement 33 

In fact, the measures of the Government had so dis- 
gusted the colonies, that in their pubhc meetings now 
they were discussing whether it would not be better 
for them to unite themselves to the American Republic 
than to remain a dependency of this country. He 
was not quite clear himself whether that would not 
be the best thing for them to do. Sure he was of 
this, that, so far as England was concerned, it would 
be better for her to give them up than to persevere 
in their recent ruinous policy. When they had given 
up their colonial trade, what had they to do with 
colonies except to maintain expensive governments 
and a large military force ? They were, in fact, 
abandoning them in maintaining the doctrine that their 
own subjects had no more claim upon them than the 
citizens of any other country." 

The dogmas of Adam Smith were, however, in the 
ascendency ; and notwithstanding the vigorous opposi- 
tion of the Tory Party, the second reading of the Bill 
was carried by a majority of fifty-six : Ayes 266, 
Noes 210. 

In the House of Lords, the policy of the Govern- 
ment was defended by the Colonial Secretary in a 
speech of exceptional power. ^ "It must be agreed 
on all hands," he declared, " that it is the want of 
steadiness and consistency in our legislation which 
has inflicted this injury upon Canada ; and therefore we 
are bound, upon the plainest principles of common 
sense and justice, to relieve that colony from the 
consequences of our own conduct." He contended 
that, in the light of what had passed, it would be most 
unjust to tell the Canadians that their produce should 
not only be exposed to unrestricted competition in the 
English market, but that they should also be made to 
suffer the disadvantages of a monopoly, as compared 
with their rivals, in conveying that produce to this 
country. This Parliament, therefore, must do one of 
two things, unless they wished to set justice utterly 

" May 8, 1849. 

84 The Origin of the Movement 

at defiance ; they were bound either to retrace their 
steps, and to restore to Canada the protection of which 
they had deprived her, or else to give her the advantage 
of the fullest competition in bringing her produce here. 
If the present Bill were rejected in the face of the 
opinion of the Governor and the overwhelming senti- 
ment of the colonists, he believed that they would 
give a most serious shock to the security of the British 
power in the North American colonies. 

" They all knew, and, he believed, would all acknow- 
ledge that the connection between this country and 
the North American colonies could not be maintained 
on any other ground than that of perfect equality, and 
by this country possessing the confidence and affection 
of the people of those provinces. It was not possible, 
nor, if it were possible, would it be desirable that the 
possession of Canada and the other provinces of 
North America — for in this matter they should all be 
considered as one — should be maintained on any other 
terms. In the midst of the colonial agitation, no 
doubt impudent and violent men would sometimes be 
found to talk of a union with the United States. In 
the United States, too, some persons had talked of 
the same thing, or, as they termed it, of a nullification 
of the connection between this country and the North 
American colonies. But still, in the midst of all their 
party disputes and violence, he had no doubt but 
that they were sincerely attached to this country, and 
that they were becoming daily more sensible of the 
benefits which they derived from belonging to the 
British Crown." But he was not prepared to say 
that this feeling would be continued, if so gross an 
act of injustice should be committed as that of the 
rejection of this measure. On the contrary, he believed 
that if their Lordships threw out the Bill, they would 
part with their best security for the attachment of 
these colonies to the British Crown. 

"It was the opinion of many who had watched the 
current of political opinion and events in the world 

The Origin of the Movement 35 

for the last few years, that the connection of these 
provinces with the mother country was drawing 
rapidly to a close, and that they would become an 
independent people at a very early day. If this were 
so, and this country should lose the present oppor- 
tunity of doing with a feeling of good grace an act of 
favour to these colonies, they might put it out of their 
power to secure to themselves even the benefits which 
would arise from the maintenance of friendly relations 
with them, when they should become an independent 
power." He believed, however, that the colonies 
should be retained on higher grounds than the mere 
material advantages which were to be derived from 
their possession. On the contrary he considered 
" the maintenance of our North American provinces 
to be an essential element of our national strength," 
and on imperial grounds boldly justified the adoption 
of the present principles of the Government "as an 
important and necessary step for the security of the 
Colonial Empire." The two Houses, he concluded, 
should take warning, from their unfortunate experi- 
ence with the United States, of the danger of attempt- 
ing to limit the commercial activities of the colonies. 
Lord Stanley, the leader of the Conservative Party 
in the Upper House, warned the Colonial Secretary 
that, by abandoning all attempts at controlling the 
dominant majority in the Canadian Parliament, he 
might lay " the foundations of deep-rooted discontent, 
disaffection, and disloyalty in the minds of a hitherto 
loyal and contented people." He scornfully referred 
to the spurious Patriotism of Messrs. Holmes, Young 
and Co., who were privately spreading the doctrine of 
annexation while openly professing the most devoted 
loyalty to the Crown. The affairs of Canada were 
indeed in a serious condition. " The conclusion was 
inevitable, that a connection with that country (the 
United States) could alone give all the privileges which 
they (the Canadians) desired ; and that loyalty must 
indeed be powerful which continued undiminished 

36 The Origin of the Movement 

under circumstances of so great trial." The debate 
was very bitterly contested on both sides of the House, 
but the remaining speakers quite disregarded the 
colonial aspect of the question and the probable effect 
of the Government's proposals upon the relations of 
the colonies to the motherland. Upon a division 
being taken, the Bill was carried by the narrow majority 
of 10 : Contents, 173 ; Non-Contents, 163. On 
June 26 Her Majesty duly signified her assent to the 

Unfortunately the passage of the Bill was too long 
delayed to be of material service that season to the 
merchants on the St. Lawrence. More than half of 
the season of navigation was over before they learned 
of the opening of colonial ports to the ships of all 
nations. For the time being, therefore, the anxiously 
awaited boon was of very little value. Moreover the 
condition of business in Montreal was so stagnant 
that trade and shipping shunned the city. The docks 
of the city were deserted, and the warehouses filled with 
unsold goods. 

For some time past the thoughts of the commercial 
community had been directed to the United States, 
by the impending change in the fiscal policy of the 
motherland. In 1846,^ an address was voted by the 
Canadian Parliament to Her Majesty, praying that in 
the event of a modification in the law regulating the 
admission of foreign grain into the British market, 
due regard should be had to the interests of Canada ; 
and, as a measure which would be greatly conducive 
to that end. Her Majesty was respectfully requested 
to cause the necessary steps to be taken for opening 
up negotiations with the Government of the United 
States for the admission of Canadian products into the 
ports of that country on the same terms that American 
products were admitted into the ports of Great Britain 
and Canada, To this request Her Majesty was pleased 

* May 12, 1846; Haynes, The Reciprocity Treaty with Canada of 
1854, p. II (Amer. Econ. Assoc., November, 1892). 

The Origin of the Movement 37 

to accede, and the Governor-General was authorised 
to assure the Canadian Assembly that the earliest oppor- 
tunity would be taken to press upon the United 
States the subject of an " equality of trade " between 
the two countries.^ 

Accordingly, towards the end of the year, the British 
ambassador at Washington brought the matter to the 
attention of Mr. Walker, the Secretary of the Treasury, 
who submitted the whole question to the President 
and his advisers. The views of the American Govern- 
ment " were favourable to the principle of a reciprocal 
relaxation of commercial intercourse between Canada 
and the United States." As the speediest way of 
bringing about so desirable an object, it was judged 
most expedient to introduce into Congress a Bill for 
the free exchange of certain agricultural and natural 
produce upon terms of reciprocity on the part of 
Canada. A Bill was drawn up by Mr. Grinnel, an 
influential member of the Committee on Commerce, 
and its adoption was strongly recommended by the 
Secretary of the Treasury in a communication to that 
committee. The Bill passed through the House of 
Representatives without opposition, but owing to the 
great pressure of other business was not voted upon 
by the Senate.^ 

Since the repeal of the Canadian differential duties, 
the attention of many American traders in the New 
England and Eastern States had turned to the possible 
development of a valuable market for American pro- 
ducts in Canada. Already a considerable commerce 
had grown up between New York and the western 
district of Upper Canada, thanks to their propinquity, 
the beneficial operation of the bonding privileges, and 
the system of drawbacks of the United States tariff. 
The results of this limited freedom of exchange had 

^ Porritt, Fifty Years of Protection in Canada, p. 85 ; Haynes, 
The Reciprocity Treaty with Canada of 1854, p. 12. 

* Ex. Doc, No. 64, ist Session, 31st Congress ; Porritt, Fipy 
Years of Protection in Canada, p. 8g» 


jL%i<,J Kl <M 

38 The Origin of the Movement 

proved so satisfactory to some of the northern traders 
that an agitation had arisen in certain quarters for 
a more liberal commercial arrangement with Canada. 

The fiscal policy of the President was well adapted 
to promote the interests of the border states. Early 
in the following session another attempt was made 
by the Administration to comply with the wishes of 
the Canadian people, as expressed by the British 
ambassador.^ To this end a Bill was introduced into 
Congress by Senator Dix of New York, providing for 
a limited free trade across the boundary in respect to 
certain agricultural products, the growth of the respec- 
tive countries. In the course of an able advocacy of 
the measure, the Senator was led to consider the state 
of Canadian opinion upon the question, and the rela- 
tion between the kindred subjects of reciprocity and 
annexation, " I know personally," he declared,* 
" many of the prominent men in Canada. I know 
that they are strongly opposed to separation from the 
mother country. They desire union with England 
first, independence next, and annexation with the 
United States last of all. They desire a free exchange 
of products with us, because they believe that the 
existing restrictions upon our commerce are prejudicial 
to both countries ; and they desire nothing more. 
What the feeling is with the great body of people in 
Canada I have no means of knowing. That they desire 
free intercourse with us there is no doubt, 

" For myself, I have hitherto spoken freely upon 
this subject. I would neither be forward in courting 
the annexation of adjacent states, nor backward in 
acceding to it. I would neither make overtures, nor 
repel them, without good cause. I believe that we are 
large enough for all the purposes of security and 
strength ; but I do not fear further extension, nor 
would I decline it, when circumstances render it con- 
venient to ourselves or others. 

^ Porritt, Fifty Years of Protection in Canada, pp. 90-94. 
• Congressional Globe, 2nd Session, 30th Congress, p. 331. 

The Origin of the Movement 39 

" Mr. President, this consideration has been urged, 
and urged directly, as an objection to commercial 
freedom between the United States and Canada. I 
have recently heard it from the anti-Liberal party in 
Canada, who are for new restrictions upon our commerce. 
They are in favour of the existing restrictions, as well 
as new ones, upon the ground that free intercourse 
may lead to a political union between Canada and 
the United States. . . . 

" Whether this view is just or not, I do not believe 
that the result is to be defeated in either of the modes 
proposed — by a continuation of existing restrictions, 
or by the imposition of new ones. I believe the ten- 
dency of such measures will be to hasten and to con- 
summate the very end they are intended to defeat." 

Reciprocity, he pointed out, had been recommended 
on several occasions by the Treasury Department, as a 
measure well calculated to promote the mutual interests 
of the two countries. He warned the Southern senators, 
who were opposing the Bill, that unless the existing 
commercial restrictions were removed, they might 
hasten the desire for annexation among the Canadian 
people. But, notwithstanding the support of the 
President, the Bill again failed to pass owing to a 
variety of causes — the lateness of the session, the 
insistent demand of the manufacturing interests for 
the addition of certain finished products to the list 
of free exchcinges, and, more particularly, the stubborn 
opposition of the Southern members, who regarded the 
Bill with a jealous suspicion as a quasi-annexation 
measure, which might in the end adversely affect the 
maintenance of slavery by the incorporation of new 
free states in the Union. 

At the same time, the Canadian Legislature was dealing 
with a similar proposal. A resolution was introduced 
into the Assembly by Mr. Hamilton Merritt,^ at the 
instance of the Ministry, in favour of an agreement 
with the United States for the exchange of certain 
^ February 2, 1849. 

40 The Origin of the Movement 

natural products. The resolution was strongly opposed 
by the protectionist members of the House, who en- 
deavoured to secure a postponement of the question 
until the views of Congress were officially made known. 
But, after a lively debate, the resolution was carried 
by fifty-eight to twelve. A Bill in conformity with 
the resolution was thereupon presented to the House ; 
and, notwithstanding the stress of the struggle over 
the Rebellion Losses Bill, and the failure of Congress 
to take action, was adopted on the third reading by 
thirty- two Ayes to eight Noes.^ In moving the final 
reading of the Bill, Mr. Merritt expressed his firm 
conviction that a favourable arrangement would be 
made with the United States Government in the near 
future. In the Legislative Council the measure did 
not encounter any serious opposition. As assented to 
by the Governor-General, the Bill had a purely faculta- 
tive character, since its operation was made dependent 
upon the adoption of a similar measure on the part of 
the United States. 

Throughout the spring and summer of 1849, com- 
mercial conditions on the Lower St, Lawrence were 
steadily growing worse. The prospects of the colony 
were as dark and gloomy as they well could be. Aban- 
doned by the motherland, disappointed by the United 
States, and debarred from the markets of Europe, the 
commercial public were driven by sheer desperation 
into the dangerous course of disloyalty. The local 
government could render no assistance, for it was 
itself on the verge of insolvency. The condition of 
affairs was very vividly described by an acute observer, 
the Rev. Dr. Dixon, ex-president of the British Wes- 
leyan Conference, who had recently made a tour of 
the provinces and of the United States. " Canada," 
he wrote, " now belongs to Great Britain by a figment, 
a tradition of loyalty, a recollection of heroic deeds, 
and not by any material interest or benefit. Nay, in 
the present depressed state of things, cast off by the 
* March 6, 1849. 

The Origin of the Movement 41 

mother country, and left to their own resources, with 
the United States close by their side possessing vast 
political power and influence, a growing credit and 
monetary resources, a prodigious mercantile and com- 
mercial navy, an active, industrious, and virtuous 
people, a Government capable in all respects and equally 
disposed to foster, protect, and strengthen all its 
possessions — we say, with these things staring them 
in the face the policy of this country has made it the 
plain palpable interest of the Canadian to seek for 
annexation. This is as clear as any problem in Euclid. 
How long the traditions of loyalty will weigh against 
the interests now put in the balance against them, 
nobody need be at a loss to determine." 

The uncompromising refusal of the English Govern- 
ment to reconsider the fiscal policy of the motherland, 
which was didactically pronounced ' by the Colonial 
Secretary " to be best calculated to promote the per- 
manent interests of the empire at large," at last con- 
vinced the Canadian people of the fruitlessness of further 
appeals to the British Parliament for the restoration 
of protective duties. In bitter disappointment at such 
ungenerous treatment from the mother country the 
commercial community anxiously turned their eyes to 
Washington in the hope of securing relief from that 
quarter. The Earl of Elgin continued to urge upon 
the English authorities the pressing necessity of 
securing a market for Canadian products in the United 
States ; but so sorry was the condition of Canadian 
affairs, that His Excellency was forced to admit that 
the end of the imperial connection might be near at 
hand. The Governor-General, in fact, entertained grave 
doubts as to whether the empire which had been built up 
on the principle of a community of interest between the 
colonies and the homeland could long maintain its unity 
under the regime of free trade and colonial autonomy.* 

* Letter of Earl Grey in reply to the petition of the Montreal 
Board of Trade, July 6, 1849. 

* Letters and Journals of Lord Elgin, p. 113. 

42 The Origin of the Movement 

The position of the colony was made all the more 
difficult and dubious by the rapid growth in popular 
and parliamentary favour of a system of doctrines 
which aimed at a revolutionary change in the organ- 
ization of the empire, and even appeared to threaten 
its total dismemberment. Since the close of the eight- 
eenth century, English opinion in respect to the 
colonies had undergone several striking modifications. 
The loss of the American colonies, which was ascribed 
by the narrow-minded politicians of the time to an 
undue liberality of colonial policy, was followed by a 
long period of repression. Tory imperialistic ideas of 
the authority of the Governors, and the supremacy 
of the Colonial Office, were in the ascendency, and 
passed practically unchallenged. Democratic institu- 
tions were regarded as a source of discontent and a 
menace to the motherland. To the general public, 
the distant dependencies of the Crown were places 
of exile, the dumping-ground of convicts and other 

But in the second quarter of the nineteenth century 
a new, if somewhat artificial, interest was awakened 
in colonies and colonization. The rapid industrial de- 
velopment of England called for the opening of new 
markets. At the same time, the iniquitous operation 
of the Poor Laws, and the squalid poverty of the great 
manufacturing cities, were proving a serious burden 
on the tax-payers and a danger to the moral and social 
life of the State. Capitalists and philanthropists alike 
saw, or thought they saw, a happy means of escape 
from the ills that confronted them. The colonies, it 
was believed, would afford an expanding market for 
English manufactures, a profitable field for the in- 
vestment of capital, and a promising home for thou- 
sands of emigrants. The Government caught the fever 
of the time. For the old policy of neglect, tempered 
by autocracy, was substituted a policy of benevolent, 
if often misguided, paternalism. Encouragement was 
granted to emigration, liberal appropriations wer^ 

The Origin of the Movement 43 

made to public works, and to the cost of the civil and 
military administration in the colonies ; and, most 
important of all, special fiscal advantages were extended 
to colonial products in the English markets. 

On the political side, the powers of the governors 
were curtailed by the introduction of representative 
institutions and the promise was held out of a further 
extension of the principles of self-government, when 
the growth of population and the ripening experience 
of the colonists in local administration should warrant 
it. In short, the colonies were treated as the favoured 
children of the mother country. Though ofttimes 
vexed by the meddlesome interference of the Colonial 
Office in their domestic affairs, the colonies nevertheless 
took on a new lease of life. This development was 
undoubtedly partially artificial, and to that extent 
unhealthy, especially in fostering a spirit of undue 
dependence upon imperial favour. But, upon the 
whole, the paternal policy of the home authorities was 
helpful in assisting the weak dependencies over the 
hard pioneer stage of political existence. 

But a new school of political economists arose, who 
boldly challenged the theories, and condemned the 
policies of the statesmen of the day. In opposition 
to the accepted doctrine of benevolent paternalism, 
they presented a new materialistic gospel of individual 
and national liberty. The tenets of free trade were 
only one phase, though a most important one, of the 
general political philosophy of the Manchester School. 
Their views on colonial policy were as clearly formu- 
lated, though not as fully developed, as their scientific 
opinions on economic questions. They abhorred the 
whole system of imperialism, as hostile to the interests 
of English democracy, and inimical to the spirit of 
colonial nationalism. They demanded the release 
of the colonies from the state of tutelage, and their 
elevation to the full rank of statehood, as equal and 
independent members of the family of nations. 

In the House of Commons, the leaders of the Liberal 

44 The Origin of the Movement 

Party were constantly proclaiming that the govern- 
ment of the colonies should be surrendered to the 
colonists themselves. They desired to throw off on 
the colonies the financial burden and the political 
responsibility of their own administration, and to 
bestow upon them the same plenary powers of self- 
government as were enjoyed in England, save in respect 
to matters of exclusively imperial concern, such as 
the regulation of foreign relations and questions of 
war and peace. But the grant of national freedom 
ought, in their opinion, to be accompanied by the 
withdrawal of the special privileges the colonies 
enjoyed in virtue of their colonial status; in particular, 
the fiscal preference, the imperial contributions to the 
civil and ecclesiastical establishments of the colonies, 
and the maintenance by the mother country of the 
military and naval forces in the various dependencies. 
Some of the more advanced of the Radical thinkers 
and politicians went even further in their political 
speculations.^ The retention of the colonies, in their 
eyes, was incompatible with the maintenance of free 
institutions at home, or the development of a demo- 
cratic government in the distant dependencies. The 
over-sea possessions represented to them the happy 
hunting-ground of Tory imperialism. They were a 
grand source of patronage and political corruption for 
the English aristocracy. The colonies not only 
imposed a heavy burden upon the British Treasury, 
but were a constant source of discord in English 
politics. In peace, they were a useless luxury ; in 
war, a menace to the security of the nation. The 
frequent outbreaks of political discontent in the 
colonies furnished, in their judgment, the most con- 

* Professor Egerton has brought out clearly the essential difference 
in the views of the early Liberal colonial reformers, as Lord Durham, 
Butler, and Sir W. Molesworth, who were genuine imperialists, and 
the narrow conceptions of colonial policy of Cobden, Bright, and 
other Radical leaders, who were thorough-going Little Englanders, 
Egerton, British Colonial Policy, pp. 366-7. 

The Origin of the Movement 45 

vincing proof of the incapacity of British officials at 
home and abroad to administer the affairs of distant 
possessions. The colonies, moreover, distracted the 
attention of the English public and Parliament from the 
consideration of more important social and political 
problems at home. They were a source of envy to 
foreign powers, and a frequent occasion of inter- 
national difficulties. In short, they were an irksome, 
if not useless, encumbrance to the mother country. 
Under these circumstances, it was to the interest of 
both England and the colonies that the connection 
should be broken as soon as possible. It was evident, 
from the experience of the early American colonies, 
that the imperial tie could not be permanent. A 
distinct nationality was the manifest destiny of the 
self-governing dominions. Since independence was 
inevitable, it was better that the separation should 
take place peaceably, with the free consent and blessing 
of the mother country, rather than come as the result of 
bickerings, or, mayhap, of a bloody struggle, which 
might embitter their future relations for all time. As 
independent states, the colonies would take on a 
higher and nobler existence. Happily free from the 
dangers and complications of European politics, and 
rejoicing in the possession of civil and religious liberty, 
and a democratic form of social organization best 
suited to the development of their immense natural 
resources, the new-bom states could aspire to play 
a prominent part in the affairs of the new world, and 
to wield a liberalizing influence upon the civilization 
of the old. 

The doctrines of the Manchester School had just 
won a signal triumph in the field of economics in the 
adoption of the free-trade policy ; they now threatened 
to exert an equal influence upon the course of the 
political history of the colonies. Some of the Whig 
leaders, and many prominent members of Parliament, 
Tories as well as Radicals, accepted, in whole or in 
part, the colonial as well as the economic tenets 

46 The Origin of the Movement 

of the Little Englanders.* A large proportion of 
the most influential magazines and journals of the 
kingdom, including The Edinburgh Review and The 
London Times, openly espoused the new political 
philosophy. The consecrated zeal of Cobden and the 
burning eloquence of Bright commanded the attention 
of the whole nation. From a thousand platforms of 
the Free Trade League, the economic and political 
philosophy of the Manchester School was widely dis- 

The new political doctrines soon crossed the seas and 
made their influence felt upon public opinion in the 
colonies. It was, indeed, a stunning blow to the 
colonial loyalists to be frankly informed by the press 
and politicians of England, that loyalty was not 
necessarily a virtue, that their devotion to the Crown 
was no longer estimated at its full face value, and that 
it would probably be better for both England and the 
colonies if the latter should peacefully cut the painter. 
It was but natural that the colonial Tories should resent 
the appearance of a set of dogmas which placed a stigma 
on their time-honoured traditions ; and this resent- 
ment was still further accentuated upon the adoption 
by the Whig Government of some of the detested 
principles of the Manchester School. On the other 
hand, the new doctrines found much favour among 
the colonial Reformers. The sympathy which they 
naturally felt for the English Radicals, from whom 
they derived their own political principles, was in- 
tensified in this case by the earnest desire to free the 
colonies from the meddlesome interference of Downing 
Street officials. They were not ready as yet to sever 
the imperial bond, but they welcomed any doctrines 
which promised to extend the measure of colonial 

In Canada, the moment was especially propitious 

* Reid, Life and Letters of the First Earl of Durham, vol, ii. p. 137, 
Melbourne to Durham, July 22, 1837; Parker, Sir Robert Peel, 
vol. iii. pp. 388-90, Peel to Aberdeen, October 25, 1841. 

The Origin of the Movement 47 

for the reception of the new philosophy. The ground 
had already been prepared by recent events for the 
scattering of the seed. The Tories, sullen and em- 
bittered by the loss of power, were prone to adopt 
the tenet of colonial separation, as a means of justifying 
their vindictive spleen against the British Government. 
The Reformers, on the other hand, were delighted at 
the opportunity of putting into effect the constitutional 
principles of self-government for which they had so 
long struggled in opposition. The agricultural and 
mercantile interests were almost forced by the law of 
self-preservation into a movement to carry the political 
doctrines of the Manchester School to their logical 
conclusion. Surely, it was thought, a Government 
which had sacrificed the vested interests of Canada, 
could not complain if the colonists should, likewise, 
adopt such measures as might seem best calculated 
to restore their prosperity, without regard to imperial 
considerations. Had they not been invited, in effect, 
to relieve the motherland of her colonial obligations, 
and to assume the responsibility of their own ad- 
ministration ? In short, in the colonies, as well as 
the homeland, the theories of Adam Smith and the 
teachings of Cobden had prepared the way for a 
peaceful revolution. 

" All parties," The Montreal Gazette declared,^ " are 
convinced that the policy of England is to leave the 
colonies to themselves in politics and commerce. The 
withdrawal of colonial protection was followed by the 
invitation to the colonies to abolish their system of 
preferential duties. These steps indicate an intention 
of directing the colonial education towards total 
independence." The Herald, likewise, shared the 
opinion that the British Government would gladly 
give up the colonies. " The whole current of opinion," 
it maintained, " among England's most influential 
statesmen, is evidently tending towards that point 
where they will bid adieu to the colonies, with wishes 

» April 13, 1849. 

48 The Origin of the Movement 

for their prosperity and hopes for continued friend- 
ship." Since England no longer retained a monopoly 
of Canadian trade, there remained to her only " the 
pride of sovereignty and the cost." The English 
Government, it believed, would be especially pleased 
to grant independence to Canada, since " British 
supremacy had been mocked, and Great Britain dis- 
graced," by recent political events in the colony. 

The character of the agitation for annexation at 
this time was admirably described by Lord Elgin in a 
communication to the Colonial Secretary. " There 
has been a vast deal of talk about annexation, as is 
unfortunately the case when there is anything to 
agitate the public mind. If half the talk on this 
subject were sincere, I should consider an attempt to 
keep up the connection with Great Britain as Utopian 
in the extreme. For, no matter what the subject of 
complaint, or what the party complaining ; whether 
it be alleged that the French are oppressing the British, 
or the British the French — that Upper Canada debt 
presses on Lower Canada, or Lower Canada claims on 
Upper ; whether merchants be bankrupt, stocks 
depreciated, roads bad or seasons unfavourable, 
annexation is invoked as the remedy for all evils 
imaginary or real. A great deal of this talk is, however, 
bravado, and a great deal the mere product of thought- 
lessness. Undoubtedly it is in some quarters the utter- 
ance of every serious conviction ; and if England 
will not make the sacrifices which are absolutely 
necessary to put the colonists here in as good a position 
commercially as the citizens of the States — in order 
to which free navigation and reciprocal trade with 
the States are indispensable ; if not only the organs 
of the League, but those of the Government and the 
Peel party, are always writing as if it were an admitted 
fact that colonies, and more especially Canada, are a 
burden to be endured only because they cannot be got 
rid of, the end may be nearer at hand than we wot of." 



Political conditions in the Province — Collapse of the Tory Party — 
Dissensions among the Reformers — French domination — 
Origin of the British American League — Address of the League 
— The League and the Annexationists — Opinion of members 
in Lower Canada — In Upper Canada — Attacks of Reformers on 
loyalty of the League — The Kingston Convention — Debates 
in Convention regarding annexation — Adoption of resolution 
of loyalty — The principles of the party, Protection, Retrench- 
ment, and a Union of the Provinces — Address of the League 
— Disappointment of the Reformers and the American Annexa- 
tionists — Annexation feeling among the French Canadians — 
Papineau and Le Parti Rouge Organs of the party support 
annexation — Attitude of the French Ministerial press — Growth 
of annexation sentiments in Montreal — Prospectus of an annexa- 
tion paper — Favourable attitude of several Tory papers — 
Changing character of annexation movement — A commercial 
issue — PubUc opinion in Quebec — Launching of a Papineau 
paper — Sentiment in the Eastern Townships — Opinion in 
Upper Canada — Loyalty of the Toronto Tories — Attitude of 
the leading Reform journals — The Canadian Independent — 
Criticism throughout Upper Canada of the poUcy of annexation 
— Tour of Lord Elgin. 

IN the meanwhile, out of the troublous times, a 
gradual reorganization of political parties was 
taking place. It would, indeed, have been 
strange if the existing political discontent and 
economic distress had not given birth to a new party 
with a new set of principles to remedy the ills of society. 
The public were ready for a change, if not for a political 
revolution. The Tory Party was wrecked. After 
enjoying for so long the spoils of office and the special 
favour of the Governors, it could not bear with 
equanimity to be cast out into the cool shades of oppo- 
sition. The proceedings of the Montreal mob had 

4 49 

50 The Spirit of Discontent 

thoroughly humiliated them. The social order had 
changed ; democratic ideas were in the ascendency, 
new constitutional principles were in vogue, the doc- 
trines of divine right and special privilege in Church 
and State were discredited. They had fought a losing 
battle for a lost cause. The free spirit of the age was 
against them. 

Unfortunately, in this crisis, the leaders of the party 
were unable to control the actions of their disunited 
followers, or to formulate a new political programme 
adapted to the necessities of the time. They stood 
helplessly by, allowing matters to drift along a dan- 
gerous course. An extreme section of the party, em- 
bittered by their humiliating treatment at the hands 
of the English Government, and freed from the re- 
straining influence of their natural leaders, threw over- 
board the time-honoured principle of loyalty, and 
entered upon an active campaign in favour of annexa- 
tion. The bulk of the party either groped around 
blindly in the dark, or, like Micawber, idly waited for 
something favourable to turn up. On the other hand, 
a small body of progressive members sought to re- 
habilitate the party by advocating the adoption of 
some of the democratic principles of their political 

The condition of the Reformers, though seemingly 
prosperous, was by no means reassuring. After a long 
arduous struggle against heavy odds, they were at last 
returned to power under favourable circumstances 
which seemed to promise a long tenure of office. The 
Governor was a statesman of well-known Liberal prin- 
ciples, the leaders of the party were strong and able 
men, and the Assembly was overwhelmingly Reform 
in its composition. But, from an early date, the party 
had been divided in sentiment and policy into a Radical 
and a Conservative wing. The long struggle in oppo- 
sition for the principle of responsible government had 
served to heal over the differences which the revolt of 
1837-8 had caused among the leaders, and in the ranks 

The Spirit of Discontent 51 

of the party. But on accession to office, the old 
cleavage threatened to open up again. The over- 
whelming strength of the party, together with the 
hopeless weakness of their opponents, weakened party 
discipline, accentuated personal rivalries and internal 
dissension, and aggravated the danger of a division of 
the party into two distinct and hostile camps. The 
Radical or Clear Grit wing preached the gospel of a 
triumphant democracy. They derived their political 
opinions to a large extent from the doctrines and ex- 
perience of the neighbouring American states. 

The Chartist agitation in the homeland, and the 
revolutionary propaganda in Europe, further contri- 
buted to spread the spirit of social discontent among 
the people, and to give them a roseate conception of 
the blessing of republican institutions. On the other 
hand, the Conservative element of the party were 
adverse to any important constitutional changes. They 
were satisfied with the grant of ministerial responsi- 
bility, and preferred, for the time being, to enjoy in 
peace the emoluments of office, rather than to go 
rushing forward into any further agitation. They were 
alarmed at the rapid growth of republican sympathies 
within the party, and fearful that these tendencies 
might develop into a distinct separationist movement. 
The leaders of the Government were placed in a most 
difficult and embarrassing position in their attempts 
to maintain the unity of the party, and, at the same 
time, to restrain the radicalism of a portion of their 
supporters. Unfortunately, their efforts were not 
attended with much success. The breach within the 
party grew wider and wider every day. 

The policy of the English Government, as we have 
seen, had alienated the hearts of many of the colonists. 
The ruin of the colony was too high a price to pay 
for the reputed blessings of British citizenship. Not 
only was the vacillating policy of the mother country 
largely responsible for the prevailing commercial de- 
pression, but the British ministers had obdurately 

52 The Spirit of Discontent 

hardened their hearts against the petitions of the 
colonists for the restoration of the protective system. 
The commercial commmiity of Canada were quick to 
learn the lesson of national self-interest. In their dis- 
tress and resentment, they caught up the demand of 
the English Radicals for the emancipation of the 
colonies. A connection which was mutually burden- 
some and disadvantageous should not, and, it was 
contended, could not, be permanently maintained. 

The Provincial Government also had to bear a share 
of the public criticism that falls to the lot of every 
Government which has the misfortune to be in power 
during a period of economic distress. The fact that 
the Ministry were in no way responsible for the existing 
depression was quite disregarded, whereas the failure of 
their efforts to induce the Governments at Westminster 
and Washington to grant concessions to Canadian 
trade was keenly felt in every home. Through no 
fault of their own, the Government were made to 
present to the public a spectacle of helpless incompe- 
tence. Many of the mercantile community did not 
fail to draw the conclusion that they must needs look 
to another source than their own Grovemment for the 
relief of the country's ills. 

The situation was still further aggravated by the 
intensity of partisan feeling and the bitterness of racial 
hatred which had developed out of the events of the 
last ten years. Since the days of Mackenzie and 
Papineau, the relations of the political parties had 
been particularly envenomed ; the struggle had been, 
not so much a conflict of men and of principles as a 
war between churches, races, and religions. The tri- 
umph of the Reformers in 1848, as we have seen, in- 
tensified the malignity of partisan and racial feeling. 
French domination was made the political issue of the 
day. A civil war was barely averted, and the danger 
was not yet past. A large part of the energies of the 
public was used up in these internecine struggles, 
which paralysed the economic vigour of the people, 

The Spirit of Discontent SB 

destroyed the social unity of the community, and en- 
dangered the future welfare and prosperity of the colony. 

Within the province, there appeared to be no imme- 
diate escape from these direful conditions ; the races 
were too nearly equal in number, and the issues too 
vitally concerned the social welfare and the religious 
convictions of the participants, to permit either party 
to lay down its weapons of war, and declare a permanent 
peace of God. Since there was no prospect of an 
extensive immigration from the British Isles, or the 
United States, it almost seemed as if the war of races, 
broken only by temporary truces, must needs go on 
for ever, unless the ascendency of the Anglo-Saxon 
race could be assured by a union with the United 
States. To many a loyal Briton, there appeared to 
be no other alternative to French domination than 
annexation to the neighbouring republic. To many 
others, who were comparatively indifferent to political 
and religious questions, annexation seemed the simplest 
remedy for the distracted state of the province. The 
commercial community longed, above everything else, 
for the cessation of the strife of parties and races and 
for the opportunity of pursuing their business interests 
under the more favourable conditions which prevailed 
across the border. The country was sick at heart and 
cried for peace. 

Out of the economic distress, the social discontent, 
and the turmoil of race and party, arose the British 
American League, the primary product of an indeter- 
minate spirit of political unrest and disaffection, 
" There is," declared The Montreal Gazette,^ " a pre- 
sentiment of approaching change. At no time has there 
been greater disaffection, or so strong a desire for 
something different. Men know what they feel without 
particularly analysing the causes or tracing them to 
their sources, although they may not be able to deter- 
mine definitely the objects they desire or the means of 
attaining them." 

* The Gazette, April 13, 1849, 

54 The Spirit of Discontent 

The first branch of the League was formed at Brock- 
ville, with the avowed object of uniting the Anglo- 
Saxon population against the dominant influence of 
the French. Soon after a branch was established in 
Montreal,* which became the headquarters of the 
League's activities. The prime mover in the new 
organization was the Hon. George Moffatt, an able and 
prominent business man of the city, and an influential 
member of the Conservative Party. By reason of his 
well-known moderate views, and his extensive business 
connections, he exerted a wide commercial and political 
influence throughout Lower and Upper Canada. By 
gathering together all the disaffected elements in the 
country, he hoped to build up a strong organization 
upon the wreckage of the Tory Party. 

An address, accordingly, was issued by the League 
to the public, pointing out in detail the evils, com- 
mercial, racial, and political, from which the country 
was suffering, and calling for a convention to take 
into consideration the commercial crisis, and the con- 
stitutional changes which the situation demanded. 
The address expressly disclaimed any desire to deter- 
mine in advance the principles by which the convention 
should be guided, or the remedies which should be 
proposed for the manifold ills of the colony. All such 
matters were reserved for the determination of the 
convention itself. But upon the much-mooted ques- 
tion of the political future of the country in relation 
to Great Britain, the address spoke out in the most 
imcompromising language. " To maintain that con- 
nection inviolate has been, and still is, the ardent wish 
of every member of the League. We devoutly hope 
that no measure of injustice may ever be inflicted, no 
power may ever be abused, to the extent of provoking 
reflecting men to the contemplation of an alliance with 
a foreign power ; if there be, as some have said, a 
time when all colonies must, in the course of human 
events, throw of! their dependence on the parent state, 

^ The Gazette, April 19, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 55 

and if, in our generation, that time should be destined 
to arise, we predict that, if true to ourselves, it will 
not come until no British hands remain able to hoist 
the flag of England on the rock of Quebec, and no 
British voices survive able to shout ' God save the 
Queen.' " 

But the actions of the League by no means corre- 
sponded to its ultra-patriotic professions. The Mont- 
real branch readily received into membership persons 
of the most varied beliefs in regard to the ills of the 
country and its political future. Annexationists, as the 
most active and energetic critics of the existing regime, 
were gladly welcomed into membership. In truth, 
the principles of the League were left vague and un- 
certain, in order the better to attract all the discordant 
opponents of the Ministry. The Annexationists on 
their part, either in the hope of converting the League 
to their own political purposes, or merely with a view 
to the more effective prosecution of their propaganda, 
joined the League in large numbers. Some of the 
officers of the League, and many of the members, were 
open and avowed supporters of continental union. 
Mr. Harrison Stephens, one of the vice-presidents of 
the local association, and moreover an American citizen, 
openly proclaimed his intention to do his best to bring 
about annexation.* Although not prepared to go so 
far as Mr. Stephens in advocating a breach of the British 
connection, many members S3nnpathized with the 
movement to the extent of regarding the prospect of 
separation with complacency, as probably the simplest 
and best solution of the country's troubles ; while in 
the minds of others annexation was a sort of arribre- 
PensSe, a last means of salvation in case all other 
means of relief should entirely fail. 

The active propaganda of the Annexationists did not 
fail to produce a feeling of irritation among the loyalist 
members of the League. Strife soon broke out between 
the two factions. The immediate occasion of discord 

* The Montreal Pilot, May 17, 1849. 

S6 The Spirit of Discontent 

was the fear of the Tory loyalists that their annexation 
brethren might seek to procure the election of annexa- 
tion delegates to the approaching convention, as a 
first and necessary step to capturing the convention 
itself, and committing the League to the policy of 
annexation. The Hon. George Moffatt took alarm, 
and, according to report, not only threatened to resign 
the presidency of the local branch, but announced his 
determination not to attend the approaching conven- 
tion, unless all discussion of the subject of annexation 
was excluded from its deliberations. The resolute 
attitude of the President displeased many members of 
the League, who did not find his policy sufficiently 
progressive to suit their views. Some of the more 
pronounced Annexationists accordingly deserted the 
League, with a view to the formation of a distinct 
Association to bring about a union with the United 
States by peaceable means. ^ A test of the relative 
strength of the two factions took place soon after at 
the election of delegates to the convention. This elec- 
tion, which was presided over by Mr. F. G. Johnston, 
Q.C., a prominent member of the annexation group, 
showed a decided majority for the candidates favour- 
able to the British connection.* Only one of the five 
delegates chosen, Mr. Charles Backus, sympathized in 
any way with the views of the separationists. 

The condition of affairs in Quebec was somewhat 
similar to that in Montreal. Thanks to the efforts of 
Mr. Thomas Wilson, a branch of the League was formed 
in Quebec, early in May. The League, he explained,* 
was non-political in character, and had no connection 
whatever with the recent riotous proceedings in Mont- 
real. The primary object of the Association was to 
devise some means of rescuing the country from its 
political and commercial difficulties. While professing 
the deepestjloyalty to Great Britain, he declared that 

* Montreal correspondent to The Toronto Globe, June 25, 1849. 
■ The Montreal Pilot, July 19, 1849. 

• The Quebec Gaxette, May 5, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 57 

if the day should ever come when the welfare and 
prosperity of the province were incompatible with the 
colonial status, he would no longer advocate a con- 
nection which was prejudicial to the best interests of 
the country. He expressly declined to pledge the 
convention in advance to the maintenance of the 
imperial union. 

The equivocal attitude of Mr. Wilson and other 
prominent members of the League served to strengthen 
the opinion of many outsiders that the real object 
of that body was annexation. The Quebec Gazette 
endeavoured to remove the unjust prejudice which this 
suspicion had aroused amongst the English population, 
by assuring its readers that " such a design was entirely 
foreign to the purpose of the League." Notwithstand- 
ing this assurance, persons of well-known annexation 
views were not only received into membership, but 
were honoured with responsible positions in the local 
League. The question of the attitude of the League 
towards annexation was publicly raised at a subsequent 
meeting of the League, but no satisfactory response was 
forthcoming. TheLeague in Quebec, as in Montreal, was 
committed to no general principles, but each member 
was left free to maintain his own private opinion. 

Mr. Wilson, who was elected President of the local 
Association, advocated the adoption of a protective 
policy for Canadian labour and industries, and the 
maintenance of the British connection until it should 
be found that such connection was not likely to be 
advantageous to England, or profitable to the colony, 
while Mr. John Gordon, a prominent Tory politician, 
who was subsequently elected a member of the local 
Grand Council, emphatically declared that he was in 
favour of annexation, and considered that nothing else 
would " right the country." ^ Just prior to the meet- 
ing of the convention Mr. Wilson addressed an open 
letter to the members of the Association, in which, 
after pointing out the various courses which had been 

^ Quoted from The Toronto Globe, July 5, 1849. 

58 The Spirit of Discontent 

suggested to meet the altered policy and extraordinary 
legislation of the Imperial and Colonial Governments 
— namely (i) the separation of Eastern and Western 
Canada with a readjustment of boundary, (2) a legis- 
lative union of the British American provinces with a 
change in the constitution of the Government, (3) Inde- 
pendence, (4) Annexation — he pronounced himself as 
strongly in favour of the second solution. Although 
Mr. Wilson was chosen as delegate to the Convention, 
the local Association was by no means committed to 
the views of its able President. 

In the eastern townships, annexation sentiment was 
somewhat prevalent among the English population, 
but, as yet, the new political gospel had not found 
general acceptance. Of the various branches of the 
League throughout the district, only one, that at 
Melbourne, came out distinctly for annexation, provided 
it could be effected "peaceably and honourably." 
Many of the members of the League were undoubtedly 
in sympathy with the growing movement in favour 
of annexation, but they hesitated to commit their 
several Leagues or the approaching Convention to a 
definite policy. As a result of this non-committal 
attitude, the delegates to the Convention were left 
free to draw up a platform for the Association according 
to their own best judgment of the political situation 
and the needs of the country. 

In Upper Canada, annexation feeling had not made 
much progress among the members of the League ; 
only here and there, at widely scattered points, was 
it at all in evidence. At Brockville, which was within 
the Montreal sphere of influence, several Annexationists 
were among those most active in organizing and direct- 
ing the policy of the League. Even Mr. Gowan, the 
most loyal of Tory Orangemen, did not find it incom- 
patible with his political principles to'sit at the Council 
Board with fellow officers of well-known annexation 
views.* In the Hamilton district, an able and respect- 

* Th* Montreal Gazette, April 13, 1849I 

The Spirit of Discontent 59 

able member of the Tory Party, Mr. H. B. Willson, son 
of the Hon. John Wilson, formerly Speaker of the 
Upper Canada Assembly in the days of the Family 
Compact, took up the annexation cause with much 
energy and enthusiasm. He belonged to the interesting 
type of the democratic Tory ; in brief, he was a Tory 
by education, a Radical in feeling, and an Annexa- 
tionist by interest.^ He set himself to the difficult 
task of converting the Leagues of the west to more 
democratic principles, but he soon found that the 
undertaking far exceeded his power and ability, and 
that he could not hope to accomplish his object in the 
limited time at his disposal before the meeting of the 
Convention. Thanks, however, to his earnest advocacy 
of the principle of elective institutions, he was chosen 
by the Saltfleet Branch of the League as a delegate 
to the Convention, But the movement in favour of 
republican institutions did not spread much farther 
among the Leagues. The Hamilton Spectator, the chief 
Tory organ of the district, distinctly disavowed all 
connection of the League with the annexation move- 
ment ; and, with few exceptions, the members of the 
League in Upper Canada remained staunchly loyal to 
the British flag. 

The Reform Party had been following the course 
of the League with anxious jealousy. The equivocal 
declarations of several of the leaders of the League, 
together with the open annexation proclivities of the 
Montreal Branch, furnished the Liberal press with 
plenty of material with which to throw suspicion 
upon the motives of the League. From one end 
of the country to the other, it was held up to 
scorn and ridicule as at heart a Tory annexation 
body. At a public meeting of Reformers at Peter- 
borough, a resolution was adopted condemning the 
formation of the League, " the objects of which are to 
create strife and dissatisfaction in the country, and 
ultimately to sever the bonds between them and Great 

* The Toronto Globe, August 4, 1849. 

60 The Spirit of Discontent 

Britain." ^ Just prior to the assembling of the Con- 
vention The Toronto Globe solemnly declared that the 
Tories of Upper Canada " were sold into the hands 
of desperadoes whose real object was annexation." * 

As the time drew near for the assembling of the 
Convention, an increasing interest was manifested by 
the public as to its probable declaration of principles. 
The election of delegates in Upper Canada, where the 
League had the largest number of branches and the 
bulk of its membership, resulted in the return of an 
overwhelming majority of supporters of British con- 
nection. On the other hand, the smaller group of 
representatives from Lower Canada were divided upon 
the question of separation. However, the general result 
was so decisive, that even the Annexationists saw little 
prospect of winning the Convention over to their views. 
The Montreal correspondent of The St. John's News — a 
League paper — expressed the fear that there were too 
many Tories who " still clung to the exploded theory 
of Divine Right " to raise successfully the question of 
annexation in the Convention.' The special corre- 
spondent of The Globe in the same city likewise wrote 
that, according to report, the question would not even 
be considered by the Convention, as the time was not 
yet ripe for its discussion, and " the people would not 
stand for it." * Mr. Wilson of Hamilton, who was 
well acquainted with the state of public opinion in 
Upper Canada, similarly declared that the subject 
would not be broadly broached by its advocates at 
the Convention, but that the preliminaries, separation 
and independence, might be proposed, " as more likely 
to win general support." * In truth, the election of 
delegates disposed of the question in advance, and 
the Annexationists saw the necessity of accepting the 
verdict against them. 

' The Toronto Globe, June 23, 1849. 

* Ibid., July 26, 1849. 

• Quoted in The Toronto Globe, July 26, 1849. 

* The Toronto Globe, July 29, 1849 

• Ibid., July 28, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 6a.» 

The Convention, which met at Kingston, July 26, 
was a most heterogeneous body, representing almost 
every phase of public opinion, save that of the French 
population. There were about one hundred and fifty 
delegates in attendance, from all parts of the country 
from Quebec to Sandwich. Although but compara- 
tively few in numbers, the representatives from Lower 
Canada wielded a much greater influence than their 
voting strength warranted, partly owing to the superior 
ability of the delegates, and partly on account of their 
more advanced opinions on the questions of the day. 
Although the High Church Tories of Upper Canada 
formed the backbone of the Convention, yet among 
the delegates were to be found Annexationists, sup- 
porters of independence, advocates of a federal union 
of the British American colonies, provincial partition- 
ists who demanded a repeal of the Act of Union, 
Orangemen with pronounced anti-French views, and 
even a few Radicals who clamoured for popular 
elective institutions. 

In such a gathering, where the chief bond of union 
was opposition to the Reform Administration, it was 
practically impossible to suppress all reference to the 
question of annexation, however anxious the chairman, 
Mr, Moffatt, and the majority of delegates might be to 
shelve its discussion. The question kept cropping up 
at inopportune moments. A resolution of Mr. Wilson, 
of Quebec, in favour of the election of Legislative 
Councillors, greatly alarmed the ultra-Tory members, 
who saw in the resolution a dangerous step towards 
the adoption of republican institutions. An amend- 
ment was accordingly moved by Mr. Ermatinger, 
setting forth in fervid language the loyalty of the 
Convention to the Crown and to the principles of the 
British Constitution. In the ensuing discussion, several 
of the delegates from Lower Canada bitterly arraigned 
the Imperial Government for its political andcommercial 
policy. Although not venturing openly to avow them- 
selves Annexationists, they were eager for a change in 

62 The Spirit of Discontent 

the form of the local constitution, and for the adoption 
of such strong political measures as would teach the 
English Government to respect colonial opinion. A 
few Upper Canadians supported them in this attitude, 
but the vast majority, restrained by their Tory tra- 
ditions, were desirous only of building up a working 
political organization of moderate views upon the basis 
of the old Conservative Party. The amendment was 
carried by 89 to 19. 

Upon a resolution of Mr, Gowan for the organization 
of a National Association of the Leagues, the question 
was more directly raised by Mr. Backus of Montreal, 
who, in a fighting speech, declared : " If we are to 
be told by every succeeding Government in England 
that we are nothing in their eyes, that we are at perfect 
liberty to go whenever it is our interest to do so, let 
us raise ourselves at once to the standard of a nation." 
(Cheers and disapprobation.) It was unreasonable to 
suppose that nothing was to be said here but what 
would agree with their wonted feelings of loyalty ; 
they must be prepared to forget that they were 
colonists, and take a step for themselves. This frank 
declaration got the speaker into diihculties, and he 
was forced to defend himself against the charge of 
being an annexationist. Annexation, he explained, 
ought to be adopted only as a final resort, in case all 
other measures should fail to bring relief. A subse- 
quent resolution by Mr. Gowan expressing unfaltering 
attachment to the British connection, and praying 
for the recall of the Earl of Elgin, called forth several 
warm speeches in condemnation of annexation. Mr. 
Parsons of Beauharnois declared that it was necessary 
that the Convention should show the falsity of the 
representations of their opponents, who had led the 
whole American public to look forward to a declaration 
in favour of independence on the part of the Conven- 
tion. Annexation, in his judgment, would be the 
greatest calamity which could befall a British subject ; 
but, nevertheless, he would prefer annexation to a 

The Spirit of Discontent 63 

change in the Constitution. Still another speaker » 
attacked the annexation movement on the ground 
that Canadians would thereby degrade themselves 
to the level of slaveholders. Both the United States 
and France should be made to realize that they would 
never see the severance of Canada from the British 
Empire. An effort was made by Mr. Wilson of Quebec 
and his colleague from Saltfleet to side-track the 
resolution, but without success. It was adopted 

The question again came up, this time, fortunately 
for a more general and dispassionate discussion, on a 
resolution in favour of a union of the British American 
colonies, the chef-d'oeuvre of the Convention, upon 
which its fame chiefly rests. In an able speech in 
support of the resolution, Mr. Duggan maintained 
that such a union would not only establish the supre- 
macy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Canada, but that it 
would make of the colonies a great nation, would 
strengthen the motherland instead of burdening her 
as at present, and would set up an equipoise to the 
preponderant power of the United States in America. 
If, he declared, he had to choose between French 
domination and annexation, he would prefer the 
latter, a view which found considerable favour in the 

The ultra-Tories of Upper Canada, as was to be 
expected, were vigorous in their denunciation of 
separation. Annexation, in their opinion,* would not 
take place unless the loyalists were driven to despera- 
tion by the unfriendly action of the English Govern- 
ment. Mr. J. W. Gamble, leader of the progressive 
wing of the Convention, devoted considerable attention 
to the topic. He confessed that, at heart, he was 
in favour of the independence of Canada, provided 
the consent of Great Britain could be obtained. He was 

^ Mr. Ruttan of Cobourg. 

• See speeches by R. MacDonald (St. Catharine's) and Strachan 
(Goderich), son of Bishop Strachan. 

64 The Spirit of Discontent 

convinced that a relationship with Great Britain of 
the nature of a personal union, similar to that of the 
Ionian Islands, would be best suited to the condition 
of Canada, but for the sake of harmony he would 
yield his opinions in favour of the project of a federal 
union of the provinces. Notwithstanding the material 
advantages which annexation would bestow in 
doubling the value of property, the vast majority of 
the inhabitants of the province could not easily lay 
aside their inherited British feelings. Annexation, 
in his opinion, could only be looked upon as a last 

In conclusion, he indulged in some interesting 
prophecies as to the future relations of Canada and the 
United States. Before many years had elapsed, there 
would be a terrible convulsion in the neighbouring 
republic, which would rend that nation in twain. 
Some of the northern states would then desire to form 
a union with Canada. The topography of the conti- 
nent, and the natural sequence of events " marked 
this out as our ultimate fate." An equally interesting 
opinion as to the future of the colony was expressed 
by Mr. Wilson of Quebec, who supported the proposed 
union of the provinces as the best means of over- 
coming the difficulties which would arise from Canadian 
independence. The time, he believed, was near at 
hand when Great Britain would cast off the colonies. 
She had already deprived them of all the commercial 
advantages of their connection with the empire, and 
was now retaining her political advantages at their 

The scheme of a federal union, it must be admitted, 
won favour among the delegates, not so much from 
its own inherent merits as a truly national policy, as 
from the evils it promised to avoid. To the loyalists, 
it held out the prospect of rendering a resort to separa- 
tion unnecessary ; and to the English population, it 
brought the hope of freeing the country from the 
danger of French domination. Of these two motives 

The Spirit of Discontent 65 

of policy, the former probably predominated in the 
minds of a majority of the Convention, though the 
latter found the more positive expression among 
the Orange members. Thanks to the combination 
of these two forces, the resolution was agreed to 

As a final summing up of the labours of the Con- 
vention, the League adopted an address in which, 
after strongly condemning the commercial policy of 
the motherland, and censuring the local Government 
and Legislature for their conduct in respect to the 
Rebellion Losses Bill, they set forth the political 
programme of the newly organized party. In respect 
to the economic condition of the province, the Con- 
vention adopted the materialistic view of the Montreal 
Board of Trade, that the loyalty of the province was 
a commercial product to be purchased or rewarded by 
fiscal considerations. They accused the British Govern- 
ment of responsibility for the " extensive bankruptcy 
and general distress of the colony." Local political 
conditions were likewise portrayed in sombre colours. 
The sins of the Government were heaped up measure 
on measure ; the Government had kindled racial 
animosity, legalized rebellion, increased the debt of the 
province by the payment of traitors, juggled with the 
system of representation, interfered with the elective 
franchise, and abused the power of appointing legisla- 
tive councillors As a cure for the ills of the country, 
three principal remedies were proposed — Protection, 
Retrenchment, and a Union of the British American 

The proceedings of the Convention clearly showed 
how weak was the annexation sentiment among the 
members of the League. Notwithstanding their 
general dissatisfaction with the conduct of the British 
Government, on both political and commercial grounds, 
the great bulk of the Tory Party in Upper Canada 
could not be brought to join hands with, or even 
countenance the seditious outbreaks of, their friends 

66 The Spirit of Discontent 

in Montreal. The Reform press, in attaching an undue 
importance to the disloyal utterances of the Montreal 
branch of the League, had, in truth, grossly mis- 
represented the real state of public opinion among the 
Tories. The bulk of the party were loyal at heart, 
notwithstanding occasional murmurings of disaffection. 
The anxiety of the loyalists was relieved at the outcome 
of the Convention, for at one time they feared that it 
might be rashly committed to annexation. " We 
dreaded," said the Montreal Transcript, " lest a handful 
of disappointed politicians should drag their party, 
and it might be the country, into the arms of a repub- 
lican confederation. This intent, we had been told, 
lurked in the minds of many of the Leagues. Had this 
folly been committed, our opponents would have won 
a great triumph. Had the question been even seriously 
discussed, the result would have been most injurious 
to the country. But, thanks to the good sense of the 
League, the question was shelved. Not even the sense 
of injustice could extort such a thought from an 
assembly of British colonists." 

The deliberations of the Convention were a great 
disappointment to the Reform Party. They had 
hoped that the heterogeneous elements in the League 
would break up in discord, without being able to frame 
a political programme, or else that the Convention 
would be led to declare for independence or annexation. 
But the Convention had not only strongly asserted its 
loyalty to the Crown, but had succeeded in formulating 
an attractive and statesmanlike policy that promised 
to appeal with much force to the disheartened mass 
of the electorate. The League could no longer be 
fairly or honestly accused of annexation aims, however 
much many of its members might be suspected of 
sympathy with that policy. 

The proceedings of the Convention were followed with 
very great interest by that portion of the American 
press which was watching the trend of Canadian events. 
It was expected by many Americans, according to 

The Spirit of Discontent 67 

The New York Herald, " that the League would declare 
for annexation, but after reading the debates we are 
convinced that it is contemplated by only a few of the 
people." When the Convention made its declaration 
of loyalty, " we knew that the annexation game was 
over." The Herald was happily able to comfort its 
readers with the assurance that, under the circum- 
stances, it was probably best " if a union were not 
consummated at present." The delight of a section of 
the Tory press over the disappointment of their 
American cousins could scarcely be concealed. The 
Americans, declared The Kingston Chronicle and News, 
" have been taught that the Conservatives value too 
highly their liberty to throw off their allegiance." 
The Canadian people, it concluded, could and would 
settle their own difficulties without the assistance of 
the United States. 

The social and political influences which operated 
most strongly in diverting the current of public opinion 
among the English-speaking inhabitants of Upper and 
Lower Canada, away from England towards the 
United States, had but comparatively slight effect 
upon their French fellow citizens. The annexation 
movement among the French population was dis- 
tinctive in origin and character. The growing dis- 
affection of the English residents of Montreal had, as 
we have seen, no historical connection with the events 
of '37-8 ; it arose out of an unhappy combination of 
political and commercial circumstances which strained 
the loyalty of the English Tories to the breaking-point. 
On the other hand, the concurrent expression of annexa- 
tion sentiment among a section of the French popula- 
tion traced its origin almost directly back to the 
rebellion in Lower Canada. 

Papineau, the leader of the revolt, was a republican 
who derived his political principles from the doctrines 
of the French Revolution and the experience of the 
American states. He never properly understood the 
genius of the English Constitution. The principle of 

68 The Spirit of Discontent 

responsible government was a mystery to him. The 
only true expression of the will of the people was, in 
his opinion, to be found in the popular election of 
the chief administrative officials, as in the American 
states. His experience in exile served only to 
strengthen his convictions as to the true basis of popular 
government. On his return to Canada he again 
plunged into the bitter political struggle then going 
on. Although elected to Parliament as a supporter of 
Lafontaine, his natural ambition and his Radical 
opinions soon rendered it impossible for him to co- 
operate with that statesman. He accordingly dis- 
sociated himself from the Liberal leader and the 
constitutional wing of the party, in order to carry on 
an independent democratic propaganda. Although 
isolated in Parliament, he soon succeeded in attracting 
to his standard a band of clever young men of Radical 
opinions, who received the name of Le Parti Rouge. 
In Parliament, the exigencies of politics led him to 
join forces, for the moment, with his erstwhile foe. 
Sir AUan MacNab, in an effort to defeat the Reform 
Government, whose cautious policy blocked, and, he 
believed, would continue to block, all efforts to usher 
in a democratic regime. 

The new party, which was quickly organized under 
his leadership, soon after issued a political programme 
of an extremely radical and anti-clerical character. 
They advanced the principle of the popular election 
of all administrative officials from the Governor- 
General downwards ; they bitterly attacked the inter- 
ference of the clergy in social and political questions ; 
they strongly condemned the existing colonial regime as 
inimical to political freedom and the natural progress 
of the province ; and last, but not least, they loudly 
called for a constitutional union with the United 
States. Several newspapers were established in Mont- 
real and Quebec to support these principles. But the 
Radical views of the party, and especially their un- 
friendly attitude towards the Church, aroused the 

The Spirit of Discontent 69 

vigorous opposition of the clergy, who in self-defence 
rallied to the support of the Government. The Church 
and the Ministry alike were greatly strengthened by 
this tacit alliance against the common foe. There 
were, declared The Montreal Witness, two French 
parties in Quebec, " the priests' party and the party 
of progress." 

The Rouge Party, though greatly inferior in numbers 
and influence to the Ministeriahsts, and, moreover, 
discredited by their connection with the revolt of 
1837, made up for their inherent feebleness by the 
enthusiasm of their propaganda. At first, the organs 
of the party directed their efforts chiefly to the 
advocacy of the principles of republicanism and in- 
dependence. But the course of events soon forced 
them to come out plainly for annexation. Far from 
accepting the doctrine, that union with the United 
States would destroy French nationality, they boldly 
avowed that annexation would best preserve and 
maintain their language, laws, religion, and political 
institutions. In an early article, L'Avenir, the prin- 
cipal organ of Papineau, declared : " The United 
States, far from extinguishing in our hearts the sacred 
fire of nationality, would fan it into a blaze. For they 
knew well that in confiding the safety of the St. 
Lawrence to the French of Canada, it would be as well 
guarded as was New Orleans by the French of 
Louisiana." * 

And again, in a later editorial, fittingly written on the 
Fourth of July, L'Avenir took up the challenge of Le 
Journal de Quebec, to demonstrate how the French could 
preserve their nationality in case of annexation. Under 
the American federal system, it carefully explained, 
each state was allowed to preserve its own social good 
life and political constitution. In case of a political 
union, " we shall enjoy the protection of one of the 
first empires of the world, be assured of our own 
nationality, and shall not have to suffer, as to-day, 

* Quoted in The Toronto Globe, April 4, 1849. 

70 The Spirit of Discontent 

the rage of our embittered enemies. We shall not be 
subject to the mercy of the first English Governor 
who shall have the caprice to tyrannize over us, and 
to make heavy the burdens that we already bear. 
Further, we repeat it, masters of the election of our 
own officials, we shall have a legislature and an exe- 
cutive truly French-Canadian in personnel ; our laws 
will be in reality official laws, and our language an 
official language ; we shall be no more forced, as 
to-day, to submit our laws to the stroke of the pen of 
an English Queen, or to sacrifice our language to the 
necessity of being understood by our public officials. 
Furthermore, our general interests will be represented 
in the House of Representatives and the Senate of 
the United States by a sufficient number of members 
to make them known and respected. We shall have 
freedom of commerce with the entire world and the 
United States ; we shall enjoy liberty of education 
and the largest and most complete political rights ; we 
shall possess direct control over the policy and ex- 
penses of our Government, over our growing popula- 
tion, over the conservation intact of our rich and 
extensive territory, and over the improvement of our 
agricultural industry, by means of a strong and 
universal system of education." 

Le Moniteur Canadien, the reputed organ of Mr. 
Viger, in a careful analysis of the political situation, 
declared, in effect, that there were three parties in 
Quebec : first, the Ministerial ; second, the Tory ; 
and third, the Democratic. The first was made up 
of the larger part of the French-Canadians, a few 
Irishmen and a small number of English Liberals. 
The organs of the party were discreetly reserved on the 
questions of democracy and annexation, although 
professing a loyalty to British institutions equal to 
that of the staunchest Tories. But, it alleged, should 
the Reformers be driven into opposition, they would 
almost unanimously declare for independence or 
annexation. The Tory Party, likewise, in order to 

The Spirit of Discontent 71 

dominate over the French, would gladly join in any 
attempt to break the British connection. If the 
commerce of Canada developed as that of the United 
States, and the English Government restored to them 
their former political ascendency, they would soon stop 
calling for separation ; but if, on the other hand, 
they were kept out of office, they would continue to 
frighten the imperial authorities by threats of seces- 
sion, and seek to popularize themselves with the elector- 
ate by crying for annexation. Canada, it prophesied, 
would be annexed to the United States in five years. 
Upper Canada would be formed into one state. Lower 
Canada into another, and New Brunswick into a 
third. The independence of the country would be 
obtained by means of petitions addressed to the parent 
country, signed by men of all parties, and, amongst 
others, by 60,000 French-Canadians. Papineau would 
be chosen as the first representative of the State to the 
United vStates Senate.^ Le Courier des Etats-Unis, 
which closely followed the course of Canadian affairs, 
summed up the situation in the statement, that, 
despite the opposition of the clergy, and the intolerant 
attitude of the Tory Annexationists, which outraged 
the sensibilities of the French population, and made 
co-operative action extremely difficult, the French- 
Canadians would rally en masse to the cause of annexa- 
tion, when they became truly acquainted with the 
operation of republican institutions.* 

At first, the attitude of some of the French minis- 
terial papers was doubtful. For the most part, they 
kept discreetly silent, awaiting their cue from the 
Government. A strong attempt was made by the 
Annexationists to win over La Minerve, the principal 
organ of Lafontaine, to their cause. For a moment 
the paper wavered in its allegiance. On one occasion 
it went so far as to express an opinion somewhat 
favourable to annexation ; but, at the same time, 

* Quoted from The Colonist, July 27, 1849. 
? Quoted from fJAvenir, June 14, 1849, 

72 The Spirit of Discontent 

guarded itself with many limitations, as became a 
ministerial organ doubtful of its position, but inclined 
to strike out a new policy if the future should appear 
propitious. " Annexation," it declared, " does not 
frighten us ; the colonial status is only transitory." 
But, it added : " We can, we ought even, to wish for 
annexation ; but the time is not yet come, we must 
wait." Although somewhat disappointed at the 
hesitancy of La Minerve's utterance, the annexation 
press were quick to interpret it as an evidence of a 
favourable movement within the ministerial ranks 
which would soon lead the whole party into the annexa- 
tion camp. But the leading article of La Minerve 
was evidently written without sufficient knowledge 
of the real attitude of the Government upon the 
question. A few days later, the hopes of the Annexa- 
tionists were blasted. La Minerve came out with an 
open disavowal of the interpretation which the opposi- 
tion journals had placed upon its recent article. It 
emphatically denied the imputation that the Govern- 
ment was in any way responsible for its editorial 
policy on this or any other question. As though to 
atone for its temporary defection, it roundly declared 
that, not only had it not become an advocate of 
annexation, but that it did not even place it on the 
order of the day for discussion. " We are quite ready 
to admit that all those who desire order and security, 
uphold, and must uphold, as one basic principle, both 
the Reform Ministry and the connection with Great 
Britain, and that frankly and without reserve." Now 
that England had granted to the Canadians a Liberal 
Constitution, they should show their appreciation of 
her action by their loyalty to the Crown. 

The ministerial papers quickly followed the load of 
La Minerve. They threw aside their non-committal 
attitude, which had caused them to be suspected of 
annexation proclivities, and came out boldly against 
the new movement. Le Journal de Quebec, the chief 
organ of the Government in the ancient capital, wa§ 

The Spirit of Discontent T8 

especially outspoken in its criticism of the French 
Annexationists ; while L'Ami de la Religion et de la 
Patrie appealed to the faithful to remember their 
duty of allegiance to the Crown. The old theory of 
Divine Right was again called into requisition to prove 
the heinousness of resistance to constituted authorities. 
By converting the question into a strict party issue, 
by representing it as a scheme of their ancient enemies, 
the Montreal Tories, to recover their ascendency, and 
by appealing to the religious zeal of the faithful to 
withstand the insidious doctrines of the enemies of the 
Church, the organs of the Government succeeded in 
checking, to a large extent, the rapid spread of annexa- 
tion views among the mass of the French population. 
Since early spring, the condition of affairs had been 
steadily growing worse. The continuance of the 
commercial depression, and the growing social and 
political unrest were rapidly preparing men's minds 
for a radical change in the constitution of the province. 
The Montreal correspondent of The New York Herald 
vividly described the state of public feeling in Montreal 
just prior to the decision of the English Government 
on the Rebellion Losses Bill, " Let this Bill receive 
the royal assent, and the second ministerial measure 
of increasing the representation be passed, and the 
struggle will have commenced. Canada will go 
peaceably, if possible, forcibly if necessary. The year 
1850 will see the Stars and Stripes float over the battle- 
ment of the Gibraltar of the New World, Quebec, 
The inattentive observer of affairs may doubt the 
probability of such an event, but let him carefully 
look into the causes which are bringing about this 
event, and he will at once see those shadows which 
portend the coming events. The colonies have lost 
all protection in the home markets ; they can there- 
fore no longer compete with the American exporter. 
The United States Congress have refused to pass the 
Reciprocity Bill ; Canadians cannot, therefore, reap 
any advantage from the Republic. And, lastly, the 

74 The Spirit of Discontent 

hatred of race against race has risen to such a pitch, 
that nothing but the succumbing of one will ever 
allay it." 

Some of the Tory papers were already open to con- 
viction as to the merits of annexation. On June ii, 
The Montreal Gazette came out with a feeler in favour 
of separation, in which, after depicting the bitter 
feelings which pervaded all English hearts, since the 
home Government had cast such unmerited scorn upon 
their loyalty, it concluded by raising the question, 
whether it was not a moral law of nations for colonies 
to be weaned, sooner or later, from the parent state. 
Similar, and even stronger, language was frequently 
heard in private conversations. The end of the month 
saw The Herald break ground cautiously in favour of 
annexation. It presented the policy of separation as 
essentially an English question. It was the duty of 
the motherland to grant independence to Canada, 
rather than the business of the latter to ask or demand 
the same. Some change was obviously necessary, since 
the country could not go on as it was. Canada, it 
concluded, should not do anything prematurely or 
designedly to bring about separation ; she should 
rather throw off on England the entire responsibility 
of determining the future of the province, of leaving 
to the latter no alternative but independence or 

The same day there appeared the prospectus of a 
paper intended " to advocate the peaceful separation 
of Canada from the imperial connection." Although 
the paper failed to materialize, the prospectus served 
the valuable purpose of a campaign document, of 
clearly setting forth the complex conditions which 
were forcing upon the public the question of a possible 
change of allegiance. The prospectus was, in fact, a 
manifesto rather than a business proposition. Mr. 
Sydney Bellingham, whose name was attached to the 
prospectus as pro tempore secretary of the organization 

» Th9 Montreal Hfirafd, June 29, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 76 

committee, was one of the most active Annexationists 
in the city. The previous summer he had presided 
at an unsuccessful annexation meeting at which his 
fellow countryman, Mr. O'Connor, was the chief 
speaker,* and subsequently, according to report, had 
departed on a mission to New York, to solicit sub- 
scriptions towards the scheme of annexation.' He 
was a man of rather uncertain reputation. By The 
Montreal Gazette he was described as a " gentleman 
well known as a man of energy and talent " ; on the 
other hand, his portrait was painted in the most un- 
favourable colours by the Governor-General,' and by 
The Hamilton Spectator, which referred to him as " the 
toady of Lord Sydenham," and " the bosom friend of 
the New York repealers." * 

The prospectus of Bellingham's paper was cordially 
greeted by both The Courier and The Gazette, the latter 
declaring that it would not be long before there would 
be but few journals in opposition to that policy. " We 
do not object to see our new companion succeed, and 
when the time comes we may not be found backward 
in seconding its efforts." An even more striking evi- 
dence of the rapid change of public opinion in the 
city was seen in the open display of many American 
flags on the Fourth of July. Such a display, as was 
pointed out by a keen 'observer, could scarcely have 
occurred a year or so previously.* 

Just at this critical moment appeared the speech 
of Lord John Russell in the House of Commons, in 
which he stated that he would permit the Rebellion 
Losses Bill to go into operation. This last blow shat- 
tered the loyalty of the Montreal Tories. For some 

^ See letter of Lord Elgin, July i8, 1848, Letters and Journals 
of Lord Elgin, p. 57. 

* The Montreal Transcript. Quoted in The Tor onto Globe, ]M\y 12, 

^ Canadian Arch. 

* Letter of Sir Francis Hincks to the London Daily News, August 
IP, 1849. 

" Special correspondent, St. John's N$ws, July 5, 1849. 

76 The Spirit of Discontent 

months past, they had been wavering in their political 
faith. Now, partly from choice, partly from chagrin, 
the principal papers of the party, with one exception, 
came out more or less openly for separation. The 
outburst was, to a large extent, " an ejaculation uttered 
in a moment of passion, rather than a deliberate con- 
viction." ^ But several of these same journals were 
by no means certain of their own attitude ; their utter- 
ances were weak and vacillating, the fitful expressions 
of editors who were anxiously following the varying 
course of public opinion, rather than seeking to direct 
the current of events by strong and clearly pronounced 
views. Nor were they agreed among themselves as 
to the future of Canada, or the mode in which she 
would work out her political destiny. The Herald 
alone was ready to commit itself to the policy of 
annexation. The Courier came out in favour of in- 
dependence under an English guarantee of protection. 
It showed its sympathy with annexation, however, by 
throwing open its colmims to a series of articles upon 
that subject.* For a time The Gazette wavered in its 
course ; it adopted the attitude of a friendly critic of 
annexation, which, it claimed, would not be as bene- 
ficial to the province as the supporters of that policy 
maintained, since the effect would be to deprive the 
colony of its revenues, and to burden it with a portion 
of the United States debt. Before the end of the 
month, however, The Gazette had made up its mind 
in favour of independence. 

Notwithstanding their superficial differences of 
opinion, all three papers were at last united in de- 
manding a separation from Great Britain. Their tone 
towards the motherland was harsh and censorious. 
They bitterly attacked her as the source of all the 
colony's misfortunes. Far from discussing the ques- 
tion of annexation in a calm and reasonable spirit, 
they used it rather as a medium for venting their 

* The Toronto Examiner, July ii, 1849. 
' The Montreal Courier, July 5, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 77 

dissatisfaction with the existing conditions of govern- 
ment. Without actually hoisting the Stars and Stripes, 
they showed quite clearly in what direction their 
sympathies were turning, and what would be the in- 
evitable end in case matters did not mend according 
to their several wishes. The unseemly and seditious 
conduct of the Tory press of the capital almost justified 
the bitter arraignment of The Toronto Globe : " Mer- 
cantile embarrassment, added to political discomfiture, 
appears to have upset them completely. They seem 
to have gone fairly demented ; they rave against 
French domination, free trade, responsible government, 
in fact, against anything and everything on which 
they can vent their ill-temper." ^ Of the four Tory 
journals of the city, only The Transcript remained loyal 
to the British connection. 

Side by side with The Transcript in hostility to any 
scheme of independence or annexation stood The Pilot, 
the sole English organ of the Reform Party in Montreal, 
It denounced the annexation cry, at the outset, as a 
Tory scheme, gotten up by " the most bigoted and 
selfish part of the people." ^ It questioned the motives 
and sincerity of the Tory Annexationists, since the 
result of such an agitation, if long protracted, would 
necessarily be the utter ruin of the Tory Party, and 
the destruction of their special privileges. But, as the 
movement took on a more serious character, The Pilot 
saw the necessity of treating the question in a more 
reasonable spirit. Nothing, it declared, but dire 
necessity could justify the severance of the imperial 
tie. It warned the Annexationists of the danger which 
such a policy might inflict, not only on Canada, but 
on the nations at large. Mr. Roebuck, an influential 
member of the English Parliament, had recently pointed 
out that the annexation of the British American 
colonies might prove dangerous to the liberties of the 
world, by making the United States too powerful and 

^ The Toronto Globe, June 20, 1849. 
• The Montreal Pilot, April 28, 1849* 

78 The Spirit of Discontent 

tyrannical in her relations with other powers. Over 
against the abolition of ecclesiastical privileges, the 
greatest boon which annexation promised to confer, 
The Pilot set the introduction of the curse of slavery 
into Canada. " We ask the annexationist if he is 
prepared to sacrifice justice and benevolence on the 
altar of Mammon, if he is prepared to enter into 
partnership with the owners of human flesh and bones, 
the oppressors of human souls, if he is willing that 
his country should become part and parcel of a system 
which denies the right of citizenship to men whose skin 
is of a darker hue than that of their neighbours, and 
takes from them the key to knowledge, lest they should 
learn to assert the dignity of their nature, and claim 
to be treated as brothers." 

The remaining English paper. The Montreal Witness, 
an independent journal of high moral tone, was from 
the first sympathetic towards the annexation cause. 
After a period of hesitancy, it at last came out frankly 
for annexation. In a long editorial of August 13, it 
discussed the question in its own original manner, 
with special regard to the effect of a political union 
on the religious, temperance, and financial interests of 
the province. Annexation, it concluded, was " the 
natural and probable gaol [an amusing misprint] 
towards which we are tending." 

The French-Canadian papers divided upon the ques- 
tion according to strict party lines. L'Avenir and Le 
Moniteur, the two Rouge organs, were as ardent advo- 
cates of annexation as Papineau himself. On the other 
hand. La Minerve, the mouthpiece of the Ministry, 
after a brief period of irresolution, threw the whole of 
its powerful influence against the movement. The 
religious press, which was seriously alarmed at the 
prospect of the introduction of American liberal ideas 
in Church and State, was even more strongly opposed 
to annexation. 

By the middle of July, political discontent was so 
far advanced in Montreal, that five of the leading papers 

The Spirit of Discontent 79 

of the city were won over to the poHcy of separation ; 
only three, including the two ministerial organs, still 
clung to the British connection. The two extreme 
parties of the city, the ultra-Tory loyalists on the one 
hand, and the ultra-French Radicals on the other, 
had raised their voices in loud protest against the 
maintenance of the imperial tie. The moderate section 
of the Conservative Party and the great bulk of the 
Reformers still remained loyal. Public opinion, how- 
ever, was flowing strongly in the direction of annexa- 
tion. In view of these unfavourable conditions, the 
prophecy of Isaac Buchanan that Lord Elgin would 
be the last Governor-General of Canada seemed des- 
tined to be soon fulfilled. 

During the remainder of the summer months, public 
interest in the question of annexation rapidly increased 
among all sections of the population. At the same 
time, a gradual modification in the character of the 
movement was taking place, the evidence of which 
may be clearly traced in the changing tone of public 
discussions of the question. In its origin, as we have 
shown, the annexation issue was the product of an 
unusual combination of economic, social, religious, and 
political conditions. On accoimt of the bitterness of 
partisan feeling, the political element was predominant 
in the earlier stages of the agitation. The strident note 
of a bitterly disappointed party rose highest in the cry 
for annexation. It is easy to follow the ascending 
scale of Tory indignation : at first they murmured, 
then they threatened the English Government ; and 
finally a small section of the party denounced the 
British connection. But the outburst which greeted 
the acceptance by the Whig Government of the Re- 
bellion Losses Bill soon spent itself, though the bitter- 
ness of spirit and the sense of injustice still remained. 
The hopes of the Annexationists rose high when the 
exasperation of the Tories against Lord Elgin and 
the English Ministry first broke forth ; but, with 
the subsidence of party feeling, these hopes were seen 

80 The Spirit of Discontent 

to be premature and unfounded. Something more 
than pohtical discontent was necessary to produce a 

Moreover, the caUing of the League Convention had 
a steadying effect upon the moderate section of the 
Tory Party. The organization of the League and the 
adoption of a political programme turned their energies 
in another direction, and helped to restore discipline 
in the disorganized ranks of the party. The party 
was no longer a mob ; it was again provided with 
accredited leaders and an attractive set of political 
principles. The scheme of a colonial federation not 
only held out some promise of relieving the social and 
economic difficulties of the province, but was also 
much more acceptable to all true Britishers than 
annexation. " A union of the provinces," The Gazette 
declared, " would give the colonists practical in- 
dependence, so much desired, and remove the idea 
of annexation now existing among many influential 
persons." In a similar spirit, a few days later, it 
asserted : " We feel with the League that it is the 
duty of British subjects to exhaust all means left to 
them of remaining under the government of the 
Queen in spite of all disagreeable and all adverse 
circumstances." Still the idea of annexation always 
remained as an arriire-pensee in the mind of The 
Gazette, as in the minds of the leading public men of 
the city, for it went on to declare that, in case the 
Maritime provinces saw fit to join with Canada in an 
intercolonial legislative union, well and good, " but, 
if they have made up their minds to go one step further, 
we have no objections to follow them." 

But, in truth, neither the unpopularity of the 
Colonial and Imperial Governments nor the proceed- 
ings of the Convention was the determining factor in the 
life of the movement. The source of discontent went 
much deeper than mere partisan feeling. The pro- 
nouncementof the Convention had undoubtedly quieted, 
to a large extent, the cry for annexation which arose 

The Spirit of Discontent 81 

from the excess of party spirit. But an ally, more 
powerful even than the League, was fighting on the 
side of the Annexationists. In Montreal, business was 
at the lowest ebb ; both local and foreign trade were 
palsied ; property was unsaleable ; capital was un- 
productive ; labourers tramped the streets in search 
of work ; homes were deserted, and families were 
fleeing from the stricken city.' The seriousness of 
the commercial situation overshadowed all other 
matters. The angry cry of the partisan gave way to 
the anxious sigh of the merchant and the despairing 
groan of the workman. The political aspect of annexa- 
tion was forced into the background ; from this time 
forward, commercial considerations were all-powerful. 

" When annexation was first spoken of," said The 
By town Packet, " it was merely held out as a threat. 
But, latterly, it has assumed a different aspect. Many 
are now annexationists whose views are not directed 
by party violence, and whose position and character 
entitle them to respect." ^ The mercantile community 
was seeking a way of escape out of the slough of despair. 
Some change was imperatively demanded, and that 
right speedily. For the moment, it appeared as if 
the interests and the allegiance of the mercantile com- 
munity were in deadly conflict. The business interests 
of the city were suffering from the British connection, 
and out of that suffering there arose, in the minds of 
many honourable and public-spirited men, the certain 
conviction that prosperity could not be secured as 
long as that connection was maintained. " Herein," 
declared a keen-sighted American observer, " is the 
mainspring of annexation. All other grievances can 
be smoothed and obviated, but this reaches every man 
and is felt every hour . " ' In annexation alone appeared 
the hope of financial salvation, 

^ Lucas, Historical Geography of the British Colonies, part 2, p. 195. 
* Bytown Packet, November 10, 1849. 

' The Rochester American, quoted in The Colonist, September 7, 


82 The Spirit of Discontent 

As time went on with but hazy prospects of a union 
of the provinces, the tone of the Montreal Tory press 
became increasingly favourable to annexation. Early 
in September, The Gazette declared that loyalty in 
Canada was shaken among the loyal, and totally lost 
in the hearts of many. " Canada has turned the 
comer, and will not return upon her trail. The second 
Parliament that will be elected from this date will 
address the Queen to be absolved from their allegiance, 
or else something extraordinary will happen to prevent 
it." * Nevertheless, it still hesitated to pronounce 
outright in favour of annexation, on account of the 
many obstacles in the way. It severely criticized the 
policy of those papers, more especially the French, 
which advocated immediate annexation without the 
intermediate step of independence. It threw upon 
them the difficult task of proving that such a step 
would be beneficial and possible of accomplishment. 
In the judgment of The Gazette, annexation could not 
take place without the consent of Great Britain and 
the co-operation of the Maritime provinces, whose 
sentiments were apparently unfavourable to such a 
policy at the present time.* 

The utterances of The Herald and The Courier were 
even more friendly in tone. In announcing the pro- 
jected publication of an annexation paper in Toronto, 
the latter declared that the views of Mr. H. B. Wilson 
" were only about six months in advance of the whole 
of the British population of the Canadas." The 
former, for some time past, had been carrying on an 
active propaganda in favour of annexation. Even 
the most partisan of the Reform papers were obliged 
to admit that the campaign of The Herald was con- 
ducted in good faith, though the gravest doubts were 
cast upon the sincerity of the cry for annexation on 
the part of the other Tory journals. It was suspected, 
and openly alleged, that the utterances of several 
of the latter were intended for English consumption, 

» September 3, 1849. • September 8, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 88 

with a view to intimidating the home Government into 
compHance with Tory demands, rather than for the 
education of the Canadian pubhc in the doctrine of 
annexation. But, whatever the poUtical motives, 
whether partisanship, racial antipathy, or commercial 
discontent, the press of Montreal was surely preparing 
the way for annexation in the most effective way by 
preaching the gospel of social and economic discontent 
with the colonial status. 

But, in other portions of the province, the efforts 
of the Annexationists did not meet with the same 
degree of success. In the ancient capital, the advo- 
cates of separation obtained a respectable, if not 
enthusiastic, hearing almost at the very outset of the 
movement. Early in the year, it was reported that 
annexation rumours in the city were " as plentiful as 
blackberries in season." ^ At first the chief Tory 
paper. The Quebec Gazette, was inclined to discounten- 
ance the threats of separation, voiced by some of its 
contemporaries, as likely to prejudice the Tory Party, 
and prove injurious to the credit of the country.* 
But when the Whig Government supported the 
Baldwin-Lafontaine Ministry, its loyalty was strained 
almost to the limit of endurance. Although not yet 
prepared to support annexation, it could not help but 
sympathize with its Montreal friends, and even justify 
their seditious utterances.' " Responsible govern- 
ment," it declared,* " was the prelude, free trade laws 
the first act, the modification of the Navigation Laws 
the second, the royal sanction to the Indemnity Bill 
will be the third, and we doubt not that we shall soon 
have to chronicle the denouement." 

Strong declarations in favour of separation were 
common throughout the city, and sometimes gave 
rise to excited feelings. On one occasion it was found 
necessary to call in the police to stop a fight which 
broke out in the city council over the statement of a 

^ The Quebec Gazette, January 22, 1849. ' Ibid., June 13, 1849. 
' Ibid., March 30, 1849. * Ibid., July 5, 1849. 

84 The Spirit of Discontent 

member that they would all be Americans in three 
months.' But the majority of the papers were not 
carried away by the excitement of the moment. The 
Quebec Chronicle, an influential Tory journal, deter- 
minedly set itself against the movement. Although 
it admitted that annexation might be financially 
advantageous to the country, it nevertheless expressed 
the hope that the British connection would not be 
sacrificed for mere material ends. The Mercury, 
the third Tory organ of the city, solemnly warned its 
political friends against having anything to do with 
annexation. " We still more distinctly maintain that 
the desperation cry of annexation to the neighbouring 
states is unreasonable, impudent, and highly pre- 
judicial to the Conservative cause, and that no declara- 
tion from the British Canadians could be more pleasing 
to the Lafontainists, than that of an intention to hoist 
the Stars and Stripes." 

Among the French population of Quebec, the gospel 
of annexation was able to make but little progress, 
partly owing to the racial isolation and conservatism 
of the people, but more particularly on account of the 
silent opposition of the clergy and the unfavourable 
attitude of the ministerial leaders and press. The 
charges of disloyalty, levelled against the French- 
Canadians by some of the Tory papers of Upper 
Canada, were, according to The Quebec Gazette, most 
unjust. The French-Canadians, it contended, appre- 
ciated the value of the British connection as much as 
their English fellow citizens ; and, moreover, did " not 
feel the less need of it, because they were threatened 
with a war of extermination by some of the latter."* 
The French ministerial organs did not hesitate to 
affirm that the French-Canadians would turn out to 
a man to put down the Tories, should the latter attempt 
to annex them to the United States. With the 
launching of Le Canadien IndSpendent, a Papineau 

^ The Quebec Gazette, June 12, 1849. 
■ Ibid., April 4, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 85 

paper, the views of the Quebec Annexationists at last 
found expression. Mr. Aubin, the editor-in-chief, 
was a warm supporter of the annexation cause, and 
both by pen and counsel contributed largely to the 
spread of annexation sentiment among his countrymen. 
But, notwithstanding the advent of the new organ, 
the progress of the movement among the French 
habitants continued to be much less marked than 
among the English population. 

In the eastern townships, the question of annexa- 
tion possessed a special significance for the English 
population. Both political and commercial con- 
siderations combined to render their position most 
precarious. They could not help but contrast their 
social isolation and the deep commercial depression 
on their side of the line with the ethnic solidarity and 
the financial prosperity of the New England states. 
Their interests, both racial and material, appeared to 
lie with their fellow Anglo-Saxons across the border, 
rather than with their foreign fellow countrymen at 
home. The substance of the matter was stated very 
clearly by Dr. Colby, one of the leading Tories of the 
district, in a public address early in the year. Although 
he considered it premature as yet to discuss the subject 
of annexation, since the consent of both Great Britain 
and the United States would be requisite to make such 
a measure operative, he admitted, nevertheless, that 
in the end annexation " would be desirable," as a 
means of emancipating the English minority of the 
district from French domination. But, notwithstand- 
ing this confession, he was not prepared to support the 
movement, since " such a union would, on some 
accounts, be premature, and also unjust on the score 
of humanity " — premature, since the district would 
not willingly submit to the higher taxation of Vermont, 
and unjust, as subjecting the province to the legal 
obligation of returning runaway slaves.' 

In the early stages of the discussion, the views of 
1 The Montreal Gazette, June 8, 1849. 

86 The Spirit of Discontent 

Dr. Colby expressed, with fair accuracy, the opinion of 
the majority of the EngHsh-speaking public. The 
tirades of Colonel Gugy and other extremists, by 
arousing a very lively fear of French domination, had 
estranged the hearts of the people from the mother- 
land, and prepared their minds for a favourable con- 
sideration of proposals of annexation. But with the 
deepening financial depression, the attention of the 
people in the eastern townships, as in other parts of 
the province, was directed more and more to the 
commercial aspect of annexation. The question of 
how to secure an entrance for the local produce into 
the American market became the most vital issue 
of the day. 

In Upper Canada, the progress of the annexation 
movement was much less encouraging than in other 
parts of the province. On the one hand, the English 
population of the west did not stand in the same 
constant dread of French domination as their eastern 
brethren, who were in daily contact with the problem 
of racial relationship ; and, on the other, they had 
not experienced the same measure of financial suffer- 
ing as the merchants and agriculturists of the lower 
St. Lawrence. Among the Tories and some of the Clear 
Grits, though for entirely different reasons, there was, 
however, a strong feeling of dissatisfaction with the 
existing regime, and a growing desire for a change in 
the political constitution of the province. But this 
desire did not commonly assume the form of a demand 
for separation. 

From a very early date, the Tories of Toronto had 
justly enjoyed a reputation for loyalty, but the attitude 
of the English Government upon the Rebellion Losses 
Bill put that reputation to the severest test. They 
could not help but sympathize with their political 
friends in Lower Canada. For the moment their 
devotion to the Crown weakened, and some of them 
were prone to follow the example of their Montreal 
brethren in demanding a release from the British 

The Spirit of Discontent 87 

connection. The loyalty of The Colonist, which 
voiced the sentiments of the moderate Tories, was 
rudely shaken ; at times, it adopted a tone not un- 
favourable to the cause of annexation. In the midst 
of the commercial unrest consequent upon the change 
in England's fiscal policy, it came out with the frank 
declaration that separation was inevitable. " Our 
opinion, declared repeatedly within the last three 
years, has been that commercial wants and intercourse 
would bring it (annexation) to pass in a very short 
period, independently of collateral circumstances of 
a purely political nature. Setting aside, therefore, all 
private and sectional considerations, a glance at the 
features of our present colonial position will establish 
clearly what is the early and inevitable destiny of 
the whole British North American provinces." ' 

Out of this editorial, there subsequently arose a 
lively controversy between The Patriot and The 
Colonist, in which each endeavoured to clear its 
reputation by accusing the other of having favoured 
the movement. A hasty visit of the Hon, G. Moffatt 
to Toronto served to remove the erroneous impression 
that the League at Montreal was committed to the 
principle of annexation, and revived, to some extent, 
the doubtful loyalty of The Colonist. It denied the 
accusation that it had attempted to force annexation 
dogmas on the public ; it had merely " argued the 
subject in full, confining its remarks rather to the 
current of events and the facts of history, than to 
the expression of particular inclinations. ' ' * A few days 
later, in a critical review of the political situation in 
the United States, Great Britain, and at home, in 
relation to the future of the colony, it expressed the 
view that the fate of Canada would depend upon future 
circumstances outside the determination of the pro- 
vince itself. All the elements of political, social, and 
commercial change were in full operation. Much 
would depend upon the character of the agitation in 

* The Colonist, July 3, 1849. * Ibid., July 13, 1849 

88 The Spirit of Discontent 

the province, but even more upon external influence ; 
the success of the annexation movement would depend 
" on the extent to which it may be encouraged by the 
conduct of the Colonial Office ; by the pressure of the 
anti-colonial mob of the manufacturing district of 
England ; and by the amount of the commercial and 
political S3mipathy infused from the United States." * 

But, after the League Convention, when evidence 
rapidly accumulated from all parts of the country that, 
for the present at least, the Conservatives of Upper 
Canada would have nothing to do with annexation, 
The Colonist recovered its wonted loyalty so far as to 
declare that it " was opposed to any agitation in favour 
of separation from Great Britain," especially in view 
of the possible submission in the near future of a satis- 
factory form of government for the North American 
provinces.* It contended that the only Annexa- 
tionists were to be found among the Reformers, and, 
as that party was now in power, they would not, for 
the best of reasons, take any part in the agitation for 
separation. The greatest security against an early 
attempt to bring about annexation was to keep the 
Reformers in office ; for, should they be forced from 
the Treasury Bench, the country might look for a 
revival of the seditious propaganda of 1837-8. 

The loyalty of The Patriot, the organ of the High 
Church Tories, was not made of such flimsy material. 
True, its hatred of the Government led it at times to 
indulge in language that sounded almost seditious ; * 
still it never altered in its attachment to the Crown 
and British institutions. Although opening its 
columns at first to the Annexationists, it nevertheless 
declared itself " altogether opposed to the discussion 
of a subject so inimical to all true British feeling. 
The views of The Patriot were endorsed by the great 
bulk of the Tories of Upper Canada, a fact which was 

• The Colonist, July 27, 1849. 

• Ibid., September 11, 1849. 

• The Toronto Patriot, July 5, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 89 

admitted by the Reformers themselves. At the very 
moment when The Globe was bitterly denouncing the 
partisan and mercenary action of the Montreal Tories 
in supporting annexation, it freely acknowledged that 
" a large and respectable portion of the Canadian 
Conservatives are thoroughly attached to Great 
Britain, and will not knowingly be led into an annexa- 
tion agitation." ^ 

To The Toronto Globe is due the chief credit for 
preventing the spread of annexation opinion in Canada 
West, especially among the Reformers. From its very 
first number, The Globe had secured, and later success- 
fully maintained, a political ascendency over the 
Liberal Party. It wielded an influence and an 
authority greater than that of any other paper in the 
province. To almost all of the Scotch Reformers, the 
editorial utterances of George Brown were both 
the law and the gospel. From the very outset of 
the annexation movement, the attitude of The Globe 
was clear and decisive. The whole of its tremendous 
influence was thrown on the side of the British con- 
nection, and never for a moment throughout the 
whole contest did it swerve from its allegiance. The 
cry of annexation, it claimed, was a plot of the Con- 
servative Party to frighten Lord Elgin into a change 
of ministry. Against those papers which affected to 
look on annexation as a mere matter of time, it poured 
forth its righteous indignation. " Show us the Liberal 
journals," it demanded, " which use such language, 
which would chain our free Canada to a republic whose 
desperate efforts to extend the region of slavery were 
continued up to the very last moment of the last 
sitting of Congress. We are told that capital would 
flow in from the States by annexation. But, if it did, 
and brought with it the deep degradation of a con- 
nection with slavery, better it were sunk in the deepest 
waters of Lake Superior." * The connection with 
Gre^at Britain, it maintained, should and would be 
* The Globe, June 20, 1849. • Ibid., April 14, 1849. 

90 The Spirit of Discontent 

perpetuated in the face of the most adverse circum- 
stances. It gloried in the loyalty of the people of 
Upper Canada, and their jealousy for the preservation 
of provincial freedom, which had disappointed and 
discomfited the plottings of the Montreal Tories.' It 
especially appealed to its fellow Reformers to demon- 
strate their faith in the liberal institutions they had so 
recently acquired, by a loyal support of the efforts of 
the Ministry to put the principles of political responsi- 
bility into practice in the present dangerous crisis. 

The attitude of The Examiner, the leading organ of 
the Radical section of the Reform Party, was some- 
what doubtful, and variable at times. It maintained a 
critical and almost hostile attitude towards the Baldwin 
Government, whose conservative policy it constantly 
contrasted with the more liberal principles of the 
Governments of the American states. Its eyes were 
turned from England, and were longingly cast across 
the boundary line. Although not prepared to support 
the cause of annexation, and even at times scorning that 
policy in no uncertain language, it assisted in spreading 
the belief that, sooner or later, the bond between 
England and the North American colonies would be 
broken. In short, it accepted and inculcated the 
principles of the Manchester School. It was opposed 
to an immediate separation, but looked forward 
without misgivings to its ultimate attainment by a 
peaceful process of evolution. The subject of annex- 
ation, in its opinion, should be approached in a 
spirit of earnest inquiry. It was a topic of the social 
circle, " a thing of which men speak as of a family 
arrangement." To many, it had become the all- 
important question. Men thought soberly upon it, 
weighing the advantages and disadvantages of such 
a step. Within a brief time, a revolution had taken 
place in the sentiment of the Tory Party, and the 
spread of the agitation threatened to work still further 
political disorganization.' 

* The Globt, May 12, 1849. • The Examiner, March 14, 1849? 

The Spirit of Discontent 91 

The Examiner, however, refused to be rushed into 
annexation. At the moment when the cry of the 
Montreal Conservatives rang loudest for annexation, 
it calmly pointed out that Canada must first become 
a nation before she could contract an alliance with the 
United States. The people must be converted to the 
principles of independence before they rashly talked 
of annexation,^ For its part. The Examiner preferred 
to await the course of events, and to watch the varying 
currents of public opinion, rather than to commit 
itself to any definite policy upon the question. 

The growth of annexation sentiment in Canada 
West, though slow as compared with its progress in 
Lower Canada, was, nevertheless, steady. Early in 
September, the Annexationists believed that public 
opinion had become sufficiently favourable to warrant 
the establishment of an annexation paper. The pro- 
gress of the movement had been greatly crippled by 
lack of an organ through which to carry on the propa- 
ganda. Almost the whole of the press of Upper Canada 
was opposed to separation, and even those papers 
which were sympathetic refused to commit themselves 
to a whole-hearted support of the cause. An inde- 
pendent organ was required to carry on an educational 
campaign throughout the western half of the province. 
A prospectus was accordingly issued by Mr. H. B. 
Willson, setting forth at length the purpose of the 
paper, and the political and economic conditions which 
had brought it into being. Although inexperienced in 
newspaper work, Mr. Willson assumed the editorship 
of the new publication. 

The Canadian Independent was, according to the 
prospectus, " chiefly designed to promote by peaceable 
means separation from the mother country." Mr. 
Wilson emphatically disclaimed " all connection with 
either of the great political parties." The paper would 
confine itself to the advocacy of independence, " which 
must hereafter take precedence in importance over all 

1 The Examiner, July ii, 1849. 

92 The Spirit of Discontent 

other questions." The necessity of an organ in Upper 
Canada was evident. In Lower Canada, with two 
or three exceptions, the entire press, both French and 
English, had declared for the cause of independence. 
In this section of the province, however, the virulence 
of party feeling, and the complete subserviency of the 
whole press to party purposes, had been such as to 
deter from espousing the cause even the conductors 
of those journals whose opinions were known to be 
favourable. The reasons for advocating independence 
were " of both a pohtical and commercial nature, and 
the measure would be advocated on the broad groimds 
of political and commercial necessity. 

"From the sentiments distinctly enunciated on 
various occasions during the last few years by English 
statesmen and writers of eminence, no reasonable doubt 
can be entertained that, whenever a majority of the 
people of these colonies shall, through their representa- 
tives in Parliament, ask to be freed from the imperial 
connection, their request will be conceded. Indeed, 
those who have attentively noted the sentiments pro- 
pounded by the leading politicians in Britain of the 
present day must have noticed a growing desire to 
be released from the government of their colonies, as 
soon as it can be done with honour and safety ; whilst 
others, whose influence has already effected one of the 
greatest changes in the commercial policy of the empire 
which the world has witnessed, do not hesitate to 
express an opinion that the colonies should be aban- 
doned without delay. It is believed that a great 
majority of the people of Canada, influenced by the 
opinion that the province would be permanently and 
materially benefited by the attainment of this end, 
are already favourably inclined. In Lower Canada, 
which contains considerably more than one-half of 
the entire population of the province, and where the 
press has taken the initiative, the feeling amounts 
almost to unanimity ; and in Upper Canada a very 
large proportion, if not an actual majority, of the 

The Spirit of Discontent 93 

people may be regarded as entertaining similar senti- 

The causes which had led to the desire for mutual 
separation were known to all. The recent measures 
of the Imperial Government had not only placed the 
colonies on the same footing as strangers, but actually 
restricted them from participating on favourable terms 
in the trade of any country in the world. Over these 
limitations upon its commercial freedom the province 
had no control. 

" As the British provinces are so situated geographi- 
cally in relation to the United States as to render them 
commercially dependent upon each other to a very 
large degree, the attainment of Canadian independence 
can only be regarded as a necessary preliminary to 
admission into the American Union. The advocacy 
of the one necessarily involves that of the other. The 
subject is, therefore, one of equal interest to our 
neighbours on the other side of the line." 

In order to devote his energies exclusively to The 
Independent, Mr. Wilson soon after withdrew from 
the League.^ It had not been his original intention 
to advocate immediate annexation. He had intended, 
on the contrary, to limit the policy of the paper to 
the advocacy of independence, leaving the question of 
annexation open for future determination, when inde- 
pendence had been attained. But the pressure of the 
Montreal Annexationists forced him out of this equivocal 
position. In a trenchant editorial of September 5, The 
Herald declared that the Annexationists of Lower 
Canada would prefer to see the province remain as it 
was, than to have independence without annexation. 
Although doubtful of the expediency of such precipi- 
tate action, in view of the traditional loyalty of the 
people in Upper Canada, Mr. Wilson yielded to the 
wishes of his Montreal friends to join in the annexation 
campaign they were about to start. 

The advent of The Canadian Independent was awaited 

* The Globe, September 22, 1849. 

94 The Spirit of Discontent 

with considerable interest throughout the province. 
In the Montreal district, its appearance was welcomed 
as an evidence of the changing sentiments of the people 
of Upper Canada, but in the western district its advent 
was greeted with mixed feelings of chagrin, curiosity, 
and good-natured tolerance. As a mark of their dis- 
approbation of its policy. The Patriot and The Globe 
refused to publish the prospectus in their columns, 
notwithstanding the fact that they were offered most 
favourable advertizing rates.* The Colonist was not 
so squeamish, and gave due prominence to the new 
pubUcation. It refused to be a party to the attempt 
to gag the new paper, the object of which was limited 
to peaceful agitation. " At any rate," it asserted, 
" peaceful separation would not be productive of a 
tithe of the disaffection" which had been occasioned 
by the action of the Government in rewarding rebels. 
It charged the Ministry with responsibility for the 
distracted condition of the province, out of which the 
agitation for annexation had arisen, and accused The 
Globe of hypocrisy in endeavouring to discoimt the 
strength of the movement.^ So far as The Independent 
was concerned, the Tory Party repudiated all respon- 
sibility for its policy ; the views of the editor of that 
paper were purely personal, and found no favour in 
the League.* The loyalty of the people of both Upper 
and Lower Canada, it asserted in conclusion, was too 
firmly established to be easily moved by the annexa- 
tion views of one man. The friendly tone of The 
Colonist was doubtless due, in part, to a desire to 
placate the growing body of Annexationists, with a 
view to enlisting their support in overturning the 
Reform Government.* Such an alliance, it thought, 
might prove politically useful, even though the views 
of the annexationists were most objectionable. 

* The Globe, September 4, 1849. 

■ The Colonist, September 11, 1849. 

• Ibid,, September 7, 1849. 

♦ The Examiner, September 5, 1849 

The Spirit of Discontent 95 

The Examiner did not believe that the utterances 
of the Montreal press were a true reflection of public 
opinion in the province. The annexation cry of the 
Tories of Upper and Lower Canada was, it maintained, 
essentially political in intent, and was designed to 
frighten the English Government rather than to effect 
a change of allegiance. But, notwithstanding this 
hypocrisy of the Tory Annexationists, there were 
scattered throughout the province many mute repub- 
licans and genuine Annexationists who believed with 
Papineau that the British connection was incompatible 
with the development of free democratic institutions, 
and who felt, with The Quebec Gazette, that colonial 
dependence unduly restricted the expanding energies 
of a free-bom people. Whatever the strength of these 
imorganized elements (for the Annexationists had not 
yet attained sufficient cohesion to be called a political 
party) the issue they presented was one which must 
be seriously considered by the country at large.* 

The discussion of the question was carried into the 
columns of the ecclesiastical press. The Church, the 
recognized organ of the Bishop of Toronto, maintained 
the historic loyalty of the Anglican clergy by rallying 
its adherents to the British cause. " The very idea 
of annexation to the United States," it declared, " was 
indignantly scouted by the immense majority of 
Western Canada, and we have reason to believe it 
meets with as little encouragement in the lower 
portion of the province." * 

In the rural section of the west, interest in the 
subject of annexation was by no means equal to that 
in the chief cities. The question, as we have seen, 
was primarily commercial in character ; it affected 
the merchants of the city much more than the inde- 
pendent farmers of the western district. The issue 
was quickly taken up by the metropolitan press as a 
matter of real vital interest to their urban readers, 

^ The Examiner, September 5, 1849. 
■ The Church, September 27, 1849. 

96 The Spirit of Discontent 

but considerable time elapsed before the local town 
and village papers deigned to treat the question in 
any other than a very desultory manner. They were 
inclined to look upon the hue and cry of the Montreal 
Tories as a passing whim, or a sudden outburst of 
irresponsible opinion. 

But, here and there throughout the western district, 
the question was given due consideration. In the city 
of Hamilton the views of the separationists found little 
sympathy. The columns of The Spectator were thrown 
open to a free and frank discussion of the subject, in 
which Mr. H. B. Willson took a leading part.* But 
in its editorial page. The Spectator took care to vindicate 
its unimpeachable loyalty by attacking the views of 
its annexation correspondents in an unsparing manner. 
Although bitterly opposed to Lord Elgin, on both 
personal and political grounds, it disavowed the at- 
tempts of some of its Tory contemporaries to convert 
that hostility into an attack on the British connection. 
It distinctly disclaimed the views of Mr. Willson as to 
the cause, extent, and cure of the manifold evils which 
affected the country." It was especially zealous in 
repudiating the attacks of the Reform press upon the 
motives and the loyalty of the League. The Ministry 
itself was responsible, because of its maladministration, 
for the spreadof annexation dogmas. Notwithstanding 
the intensity of its political feeling. The Spectator still 
preferred the mismanagement of the Reformers to the 
democratic heresies of the United States. 

The Hamilton Journal and Express, and the Guelph 
and Gait Advertiser were equally hostile to annexation. 
At the very outset of the agitation, the former de- 
clared, " as a true representative of the Reformers of 
Canada West, and in their name," that the United 
States would " not annex Canada just yet " ; * the 
latter proudly affirmed that the loyalty of the Reform 

* The Spectator, March 28, April 4, etc., 1849. 

* Ibid., March 28, 1849. 

* Quoted from The Spectator, April 25, 1849. 

The Spirit of Discontent 97 

Party was not in question. It was true, it admitted, 
that a few of the French-Canadian papers professing 
Liberal principles had unfortunately supported annexa- 
tion, but " as a body the Liberal press of Canada has 
spoken out plainly and firmly for the continuance of 
British connection and responsible government, be- 
lieving, as they do, that under responsible government 
we shall have all the advantages of limited monarchical 
government, with as much liberty and equality and 
civil justice, and smallness of national expenditures, 
as if we were a republic. And we do say that, as a body, 
the Tory press of Canada has come out as boldly for 
annexation as the Liberal press has denounced it." 
It acknowledged, however, that all the Tory papers 
had not gone over to the enemy, since " a few, such as 
The Guelph Herald, are still strong in their professions 
of loyalty to the British flag." 

In the Midland district, The Kingston British Whig 
expressed the opinion that the Conservative Party was 
dead in every part of the country save Montreal. The 
province, it declared, would " not be ready for annexa- 
tion for fifty years yet." ^ 

The question was altogether too important to escape 
the attention of the politicians, especially when it 
afforded such a splendid opportunity to the Reformers 
to make party capital at the expense of their opponents. 
During the summer, several of the Reform members 
of Parliament took occasion to refer to the matter in 
their public addresses. At a large Reform meeting 
at Brantford, the Hon. Malcolm Cameron scouted the 
idea of annexation,* harped upon the loyalty of the 
party, and denounced the action of the Conserva- 
tive press in lending their sanction to the movement. 
In like manner, Mr. Morrison, in an address to his 
constituents of the county of York, attacked the 

* Quoted from The Globe, September 15, 1849. 

• The Amherstburg Chronicle accused Mr. Cameron of having 
formerly supported annexation as necessary to the prosperity of 
the country. 

98 The Spirit of Discontent 

separationist proclivities of the League, and declared 
that the latter would soon find that Upper Canada 
repudiated the idea of annexation.^ 

As autumn came on, Lord Elgin undertook a trip 
through the western provinces in order to familiarize 
himself with the condition of the people, and check, if 
possible, the growing separationist sentiment. Not- 
withstanding the semi-political character of his pro- 
gress (for the Reformers turned out en masse to honour 
him with all the distinction of a party leader), he was 
greeted with loyal addresses from the various municipal 
bodies, and was accorded a friendly reception by the 
people at large. The Conservatives, for the most part, 
joined with the Reformers in testifying their loyalty 
to the Crown by a respectful, if not a hearty, reception 
to the royal representative. Even in Toronto, in spite 
of the intensity of party feeling, the corporation adopted 
an address emphasizing the loyalty of the city.* Only 
here and there, as in Brockville and London, were 
there spasmodic evidences of disaffection on the part 
of a small number of extreme Tories. The tour of 
the Governor-General had a beneficial effect in rallying 
the Reform Party to a heartier support of the Ministry, 
and in recalling the people at large to a sense of their 
duty and allegiance to their gracious sovereign. It 
served to dispel the suspicion, that at heart a con- 
siderable minority, if not a majority, of the people 
of Upper Canada favoured a peaceful separation from 
England. Many were undoubtedly dissatisfied, but 
few had been attacked by the virus of disloyalty. So 
strongly, indeed, was the spirit of loyalty shown through- 
out the tour, that the Annexationists found it advisable 
to avoid all hostile demonstrations, and to manifest 
a respectful deference towards the Governor-General. 

* Letter of Hon. F. Hincks toThe London News, August lo, 1849. 

• The Globe, September 17, 1849. 



Disaffection in Montreal— Alliance of the ultra-Tories and Rouges 
— The commercial interests demand a change — Preparation 
of the Manifesto — An Address to the People of Canada — 
Signatures to the Manifesto — Minority of French-Canadians — 
Battle of the Montreal press — The Herald, Courier, and Witness 
declare for annexation — The Gazette favours independence — 
The Transcript and Pilot support British connection — The 
French-Canadian papers divide on party lines — Organization 
of Annexation Association — Declaration of Papineau — Annexa- 
tion demonstration — Speeches and resolutions — Officers of the 
Association — Policy of the Association — Loyalty of the Reform 
Government — Letter of Baldwin — Protest of French Liberal 
members against annexation— Criticism of their action — Letter 
of Francis Hincks — Effect upon the Reform Party — Address 
of Montreal loyalists— Character of signatures — Dismissal of 
annexation officials — Criticism of action of Ministry by Tory 
press — Conduct of the Conservative leaders — Loyalty of the 
Orangemen — Opinion of the Governor-General — Criticism of 
Movement — Opinion of correspondent of London Times. 

BUT we must return to the fountain-head of the 
annexation movement, the city of Montreal. 
Here, as we have seen, at the beginning of 
September the Annexationists were seeking to 
marshal their forces for a vigorous forward campaign. 
Disaffection was rife on every side. The people were 
distracted by radical jealousies and economic losses. 
The Ministry was powerless to grant relief, and the 
programme of the League had proved abortive. The 
spirit of unrest was abroad. The sharp but petulant 
cry for separation gave way to the general conviction 
that relief could be found only in annexation. The 
anti-colonial policy of the Whigs, according to The 
Kingston Chronicle and News, had strained the loyalty 


100 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

of the Montreal merchants to the breaking-point. 
" When poverty enters at the door, love is said to fly 
out of the window, and it is very much the same with 
loyalty. The dollar is found by experience to be as 
potent on this as on the other side of the line 45. 
The Montreal Annexationists doubtless desire to retain 
their loyalty, but they flatly declare they can no longer 
afford the luxury. Cobdenism has rendered it too 
costly for them ; and Elginism has led many of 
them to doubt whether the article is not dear at any 

But up to this moment, the forces of discontent had 
remained unorganized. They were merely a rabble, or, 
at best, a loose group of hostile factions. The Tories 
were the traditional enemies of the French-Canadian 
democrats. The two opposing factions were separated 
from one another by race, language, religion, social 
usages, and political principles and ideals. Where, 
then, was to be found the mutual bond of sympathy, 
or common interest, to unite the Tory annexationist 
with his French-Canadian compeer ? Apparently, 
they had nothing in common except their hostility 
to the Government. But, in politics, necessity often 
makes strange bed-fellows. We have already seen 
how Papineau, the Radical, had joined forces with 
MacNab, the reactionary, to overthrow the Reform 
Government. Much as these two leaders disliked one 
another, they hated Lord Elgin and his ministers even 
more. This unnatural parliamentary alliance prepared 
the way for future political co-operation. The popular 
clamour for annexation in Montreal brought about 
a temporary rapprochement of the Tories and the 
Rouges in that city. Here was an issue on which 
they could get together. They were alike convinced 
of the general advantage of annexation, though they 
widely differed as to the specific benefits they severally 
expected to derive from a union with the United States. 
The goal was the same, but the objects in view were 
fundamentally different. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 101 , 

Since neither the French nor the Tory Annexationists c^^"^'^^ 
were strong enough of themselves to direct the course 
of events, poHtical prudence demanded that they drop 
their ancient enmity, and unite to promote their 
common cause. To that end, a change of tactics was 
required on the part of the Tory Party of the capital. 
The violent language of the Tory press had long 
wounded the susceptibilities of the French population, 
and had driven them into the ranks of the Reform 
Party, through fear of an anti-clerical crusade. Un- 
fortunately for the cause of annexation, the French 
democrats had very grave doubts as to the motives 
of the new-bom Tory desire for annexation. " If," 
said Le Courier des Etats-Unis, " the French-Canadians 
believed in the sincerity of the Tories, the party 
[referring to the Annexationists] would be all-powerful 
here." It was folly, according to Le Courier, for the 
Conservatives to dream of freeing themselves from the 
British yoke without the co-operation of at least a 
portion of the French population. 

But mere political blandishments would never have 
sufficed to draw the two parties together. The reciprocal 
attraction of their common misery was required to 
bring about the necessary co-operation. In their 
common suffering, they forgot for the moment their 
social, political, and religious differences. To both 
there was held out the glowing prospect of escape from 
insolvency. The appeal was made with particular 
success to the wealthier members of the mercantile 
community. For many years, they had been accus- 
tomed to look upon the British connection as a com- 
mercial relationship out of which financial profit was 
to be derived. Loyalty under the preferential tariff 
was a part of their stock-in-trade. But upon the 
withdrawal of the imperial preference, their loyalty 
became a drug on the market. All considerations of 
party policy or political allegiance were lost sight of 
in the demand for a restoration of their accustomed 
profits. On this fundamental basis of the common 

102 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

material interests of the two nationalities, the An- 
nexationists determined to found a new political 

The moment was favourable for the commencement 
of a vigorous propaganda. The press, for the most 
part, was friendly. The public was ripe for a change, 
and the interests of the merchants demanded it. The 
relations of the French and English inhabitants of the 
city had become more cordial. By the beginning of 
October, the plans of the Annexationists were well 
under way. The French and English Annexationists 
agreed to sink their differences, and to unite in the 
common cause. A small but influential group of 
representative merchants set to work to draw up a 
declaration of political principles. 

The press took the lead in preparing the minds of 
the public for the coming announcement. The Herald 
came out with a frank declaration in favour of im- 
mediate annexation. " We have reason to wish for 
an incorporation with the states of the American 
Union ; like reason prompts us to desire that this 
incorporation should take place as speedily as possible. 
A state of political transition is a state of personal 
and social misery. Here is no tranquillity, no im- 
provement. It is of the utmost importance for the 
inhabitants of Canada, as the world believes that they 
are about to pass through a revolution, that they 
should do it at once." * It drew an unfavourable 
contrast between the policy of the League for a federal 
union of the provinces and the scheme of annexation. 
The choice in reality must needs be made between 
annexation and independence, since a federal union 
of the colonies necessarily involved independence. 
The latter would be much more costly, especially in 
the matter of defence, whereas the former would save 
the expense of maintaining a distinct administration 
and, what was even more important, would afford relief 
to the economic distress of the province by opening 

* The Herald, October 3, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 103 

up the American market, and affording means for 
transportation of Canadian products. 

The same day The Courier made a similar avowal 
of annexation principles. " When," it declared, " men 
find things irretrievably bad, they must needs think 
of desperate remedies. Annexation is that remedy ; 
it will be foolish now for us to wait to see what England 
will do for us. England can do nothing." * A couple 
of days later, it declared, in more offensive language, 
that while Canada remained a dependency of a distant 
empire, she would never be rich enough to make the 
internal improvements which were necessary to open 
up trade, nor would English capital be attracted to a 
colony which was certain to separate in the near future. 
The principles of free trade, it contended, were in- 
compatible with the maintenance of a colonial empire. 
The Pilot and Transcript might " stick like lice to a 
dead corpse," but they could not revive the loyalty 
of the Canadian people.* 

The Montreal Witness endeavoured to give a religious 
sanction to the annexation movement. "It is pre- 
cisely because we think the indications of Divine Pro- 
vidence are pointing directly, constantly, and, we might 
add, urgently in the direction of annexation, that we 
have felt constrained to discuss the subject at some 
length, ere it becomes involved in the whirl of party 
strife." The most striking indication of providential 
direction was to be seen in the conversion of the Tory 
Party, which for many years had manifested " a pas- 
sionate and chivalrous attachment to the British 
Crown," into an Annexation Party, " thus dissolving 
the only bond that was sufficiently strong to retain 
the Canadas for Britain against their own interest." 

The city was on the tip-toe of expectation in conse- 
quence of a rumour that the Annexationists were about 
to issue a public manifesto.' The preparation of such 
a document was taken in hand " by a committee of 

^ The Courier, October 3, 1849. * Ibid., October 5, 1849, 

» The Gazette f October 5, 1849, 

104 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

gentlemen of wealth, education, and influence," with 
a view to ascertaining to what extent public opinion 
was prepared to support them in their efforts. Accord- 
ing to their own profession, they had " no desire to 
assume the leadership, or draw others into ill-advised 
measures " ; but if the manifesto were favourably 
received, they were prepared to go ahead with the 
organization of a general association. The immediate 
object of the committee was limited, however, to setting 
before the public the advantages of annexation. They 
did not wish at the moment to discuss the future 
policy of the Annexationists, or the means by which 
the object in view might be attained. 

The preparation of the manifesto was, according to 
The Gazette, a delicate undertaking, since much of the 
success or failure of the propaganda depended on the 
first impressions of the public. The committee were 
solemnly advised to attend carefully to the form of the 
declaration, to see to it that the statement was " well 
conceived and well matured," and not to be de- 
ficient in weight and strength, as it was reported. The 
secrecy with which the committee set about the pre- 
paration of the manifesto awakened considerable 
criticism from those who were not within the inner 
circle of the movement. The motives of the com- 
mittee were undoubtedly good, declared The Gazette, 
but " we cannot help feeling that the issuing of such 
a document is beginning where we ought to end." 
Before such a publication was issued, there should be 
a full opportunity of ascertaining the opinion of the 
masses. The question of procedure was, after all, one 
of good political tactics. " An organization," in the 
opinion of The Gazette, " should take place first, and 
then a declaration of opinion. We have to consider 
what Upper Canada and the other provinces will do." * 
The people of Lower Canada, however unanimous, 
ought not to think of dictating to the majority of their 
fellow citizens in North America. An association, if 

* The Gazette, October 5, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 105 

properly organized, would always be in a position to 
make a declaration of principles, when the feeling of 
the public appeared favourable to such a state- 

But, notwithstanding this criticism of the tactics of the 
annexation leaders, The Gazette did not hesitate to affirm 
that the prevailing opinion in Canada was decidedly 
hostile to the British connection. " In Lower Canada, ^^'^. 
both the English and French are ripe for a change. 
In Upper Canada, we believe that there is still a 
majority of the population pretending to be desirous 
of continued connection with England, but the in- 
habitants of the towns along the lake are fast changing 
their opinions, and in a short time the old feeling — 
the loyal feeling — will be confined to the old coimtry 
settlers in the back townships." Even the feelings 
of the latter would change when they realized the 
difference in the price of wheat on the two sides of 
the boundary line. This striking revolution in public 
sentiment was due, in the opinion of The Gazette, to the 
annihilation of every tie of interest between England 
and her colonies ; and, as Canada withdrew from social 
and commercial intercourse with the motherland, she 
as surely cemented her relations with the United 
States.^ The Courier, likewise, declared : " The de- 
sire for annexation has taken fast hold on all classes 
of the community, and every minor issue is about 
to be absorbed in this all-important question. The 
difficulty now is to find a man who is opposed to 
annexation," whereas, six months ago, the man who 
would have ventured to stand up openly in favour of 
such a measure would have been a rara avis. Such 
was the revolution in sentiment, which, in the opinion 
of The Courier, had been brought about by the in- 
capacity and maladministration of the Government.* 

At last the expected manifesto, the most important 
document in the history of the annexation, made its 

^ The Gazette, October 8, 1849. * The Courier, October 6, 1849. 

106 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

An Address to the People of Canada 

The number and magnitude of the evils which 
afflict our country, and the universal and increasing 
depression of its material interests, call upon all 
persons animated by a sincere desire for its welfare to 
combine for the purpose of inquiry and preparation, 
with the view to the adoption of such remedies as a 
mature and dispassionate investigation may suggest. 

Belonging to all parties, origins, and creeds, but 
yet agreed upon the advantages of co-operation for 
the performance of a common duty to ourselves and 
our country growing out of a common necessity, we 
have consented, in view of a brighter and happier 
future, to merge in oblivion all past differences of 
whatever character, or attributable to whatever 

In appealing to our fellow colonists to unite with 
us in this, our most needful duty, we solemnly conjure 
them, as they desire a successful issue and the welfare 
of their country, to enter upon the task at this moment- 
ous crisis in the same fraternal spirit. 

The reversal of the ancient policy of Great Britain, 
whereby she withdraws from the colonies their wonted 
protection in her market, has produced the most 
disastrous effects upon Canada. In surveying the 
actual condition of the country, what but ruin or 
rapid decay meets the eye ? Our Provincial Govern- 
ment and civic corporations embarrassed, our banking 
and other securities greatly depreciated, our mercantile 
and agricultural interests alike unprosperous, real 
estate scarcely saleable upon any terms, our un- 
rivalled rivers, lakes, and canals almost unused ; 
whilst commerce abandons our shores, the circulating 
Cjapital amassed under a more favourable system is 
dissipated, with none from any quarter to replace it. 
Thus, without available capital, unable to effect a loan 
with foreign states, or with the mother country, 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 107 

although offering security greatly superior to that 
which readily obtains money, both for the United 
States and Great Britain, when other than the colonials 
are the applicants — crippled, therefore, in the full 
career of private and public enterprise, this possession 
of the British Crown, our country, stands before the 
world in humiliating contrast with its immediate 
neighbours, exhibiting every symptom of a nation 
fast sinking to decay. 

With superabundant water power and cheap labour 
especially in Lower Canada, we have yet no domestic 
manufactures, nor can the most sanguine, unless 
under altered circumstances, anticipate the home 
growth or advent from foreign parts of either capital 
or enterprise to embark in this great source of national 
wealth. Our institutions, unhappily, have not that 
impress of permanence which can alone impart security 
and inspire confidence ; and the Canadian market is 
too limited to tempt the foreign capitalist. 

Whilst the adjoining states are covered with a net- 
work of thriving railways, Canada possesses but three 
lines, which, together, scarcely exceed fifty miles in 
length, and the stock in two of which is held at a de- 
preciation of from 50 to 80 per cent. — a fatal symptom 
of the torpor overspreading the land. 

Our present system of Provincial Government is 
cumbrous and too expensive, so as to be ill-suited to 
the circumstances of the country, and the necessary 
reference it demands to a distant Government, im- 
perfectly acquainted with Canadian affairs, and some- 
what indifferent to our interests, is anomalous and 
irksome. Yet in event of a rupture between two of 
the most powerful nations of the world, Canada would 
become the battlefield and the sufferer, however little 
her interests might be involved in the cause of the 
quarrel or the issue of the contest. 

The bitter animosities of political parties and factions 
in Canada, often leading to violence, and in one case 
to civil war, seem not to have abated with time ; nor 

108 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

is there at the present moment any prospect of dim- 
inution or accommodation. The aspect of parties be- 
comes daily more threatening towards each other, and 
under our existing institutions and relations little 
hope is discernible of a peaceful and prosperous ad- 
ministration of our affairs, but difficulties will to all 
appearance accumulate until government becomes 
impracticable. In this view of our position, any course 
that may promise to efface existing party distractions, 
and place entirely new issues before the people, must 
be fraught with undeniable advantages. 

Among the statesmen of the mother country — among 
the sagacious observers of the neighbouring Republic — 
in Canada — and in all British North America — amongst 
all classes, there is a strong pervading conviction that 
a political revolution in this country is at hand. Such 
forebodings cannot really be dispelled, and they have 
moreover a tendency to realize the events to which 
they point. In the meantime serious injury results 
to Canada from the effect of this anticipation upon the 
more desirable classes of settlers, who naturally prefer 
a country under fixed and permanent forms of govern- 
ment to one in a state of transition. 

Having thus adverted to some of the causes of our 
present evils we would consider how far the remedies 
ordinarily proposed possess sound and rational in- 
ducements to justify their adoption. 

1. " The revival of protection in the markets of the 
United Kingdom." 

This, if attainable in a sufficient degree, and guar- 
anteed for a long term of years, would ameliorate the 
condition of some of our chief interests, but the policy 
of the empire forbids the anticipation. Besides, it 
would be but a partial remedy. The millions of the 
mother country demand cheap food ; and a second 
change from protection to free trade would complete 
that ruin which the first has done much to achieve. 

2. " The protection of home manufactures." 
Although this might encourage the growth of a 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 109 

manufacturing interest in Canada, yet without access 
to the United States market there would not be a 
sufficient expansion of that interest, from the want 
of consumers, to work any result that could be admitted 
as a remedy for the numerous evils of which we com- 

3. " A federal union of the British American Pro- 

The advantages claimed for that arrangement are 
free trade between the different provinces, and a 
diminished governmental expenditure. The attain- 
ment of the latter object would be problematical, and 
the benefits anticipated from the former might be 
secured by legislation under our existing system. The 
market of the sister provinces would not benefit our 
trade in timber, for they have a surplus of that article 
in their own forests ; and their demand for agricultural 
products would be too limited to absorb our means of 
supply. Nor could Canada expect any encouragement 
to her manufacturing industry from those quarters. A 
federal union, therefore, would be no remedy. 

4. " The independence of the British North Ameri- 
can colonies as a Federal Republic." 

The consolidation of its new institutions from ele- 
ments hitherto so discordant — the formation of treaties 
with foreign powers — the acquirement of a name and 
character among the nations, would, we fear, prove 
an over-match for the strength of the new republic. 
And having regard to the powerful confederacy of 
states conterminous with itself, the needful military 
expenses would be too costly to render independence 
a boon, whilst it would not, any more than a federal 
union, remove those obstacles which retard our material 

5. " Reciprocal free trade with the United States, 
as respects the products of the farm, the forest, and 
the mine." 

If obtained, this would yield but an instalment of 
the advantages which might be otherwise secured. 

110 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

The free interchange of such products would not in- 
troduce manufactures to our country. It would not 
give us the North American continent for our market. 
It would neither so amend our institutions as to confer 
stability, nor ensure confidence in their permanence ; 
nor would it allay the violence of parties, or in the 
slightest degree remedy many of our prominent evils. 

6. Of all the remedies that have been suggested for 
the acknowledged and insufferable ills with which our 
country is afflicted, there remains but one to be con- 
sidered. It propounds a sweeping and important 
change in our political and social condition, involving 
considerations which demand our most serious exam- 
ination. This remedy consists of a friendly and 
peaceful separation from british connection, and 
a union upon equitable terms with the great 
North American Confederacy of sovereign states. 

We would premise that towards Great Britain we 
entertain none other than sentiments of kindness and 
respect. Without her consent, we consider separation 
as neither practicable nor desirable. But the colonial 
policy of the parent state, the avowals of her leading 
statesmen, the public sentiments of the empire, present 
unmistakable and significant indications of the appre- 
ciation of colonial connection. That it is the resolve 
of England to invest us with the attributes, and compel 
us to assume the burdens, of independence is no longer 
problematical. The threatened withdrawal of her 
troops from other colonies — the continuance of her 
military protection to ourselves on condition that 
we shall defray the attendant expenditure, betokens 
intentions towards our country against which it is 
weakness in us not to provide. An overruling con- 
viction, then, of its necessity, and a high sense of the 
duty we owe our country, a duty we can neither 
disregard nor postpone, impel us to entertain the idea 
of separation ; and whatever negociations may eventuate 
with Great Britain, a grateful liberality on the part of 
Canada should mark every proceeding. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 111 

The proposed union would render Canada a field for 
American capital, into which it would enter as freely 
for the prosecution of public works and private enter- 
prises as into any of the present states. It would 
equalize the value of real estate upon both sides of 
the boundary, thereby probably doubling at once the 
entire present value of property in Canada, whilst by 
giving stability to our institutions, and introducing 
prosperity, it would raise our public, corporate, and 
private credit. It would increase our credit both with 
the United States and foreign countries, and would 
not necessarily diminish to any great extent our 
intercourse with Great Britain, into which our products 
would for the most part enter on the same terms as 
at present. It would render our rivers and canals 
the highway for the immigration to, and exports from, 
the West, to the incalculable benefit of our country. 
It would also introduce manufactures into Canada as 
rapidly as they have been introduced into the Northern 
States ; and to Lower Canada especially, where water 
power and labour are abundant and cheap, it would 
attract manufacturing capital, enhance the value of 
property and agricultural produce, and give remunera- 
tive employment to what is at present a comparatively 
non-producing population. Nor would the United 
States merely furnish the capital for our manufactures. 
They would also supply for them the most extensive 
market in the world, without the intervention of a 
Customs House officer. Railways would forthwith be 
constructed by American capital as feeders for all the 
great lines now approaching our frontiers, and railway 
enterprise in general would doubtless be as active and 
prosperous among us as among our neighbours. The 
value of our agricultural produce would be raised at 
once to a par with that of the United States, whilst 
agricultural implements and many of the necessaries 
of life, such as tea, coffee, and sugar, would be greatly 
reduced in price. 

The value of our timber would also be greatly 

112 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

enhanced by free access to the American market, where 
it bears a high price, but is subject to an onerous duty. 
At the same time there is every reason to beUeve that 
our shipbuilders, as well at Quebec as on the Great 
Lakes, would find an unlimited market in all the ports 
of the American continent. It cannot be doubted that 
the shipping trade of the United States must greatly 
increase. It is equally manifest that, with them, the 
principal material in the construction of ships is 
rapidly diminishing, while we possess vast territories, 
covered with timber of excellent quality, which would 
be equally available as it is now, since under the free- 
trade system our vessels would sell as well in England 
after annexation as before. 

The simple and economical State Government, in 
which direct responsibility to the people is a distin- 
guishing feature, would be substituted for a system at 
once cumbrous and expensive. 

In place of war and alarms of war with a neighbour, 
there would be peace and amity between this country 
and the United States. Disagreement between the 
United States and her chief, if not only, rival among 
nations would not make the soil of Canada the san- 
guinary arena for their disputes as under our existing 
relations must necessarily be the case. That such is 
the unenviable condition of our state of dependence 
upon Great Britain is known to the whole world ; and 
how far it may conduce to keep prudent capitalists 
from making investments in the country, or wealthy 
settlers from selecting a foredoomed battlefield for 
the home of themselves and children, it needs no 
reasoning on our part to elucidate. 

But other advantages than those having a bearing 
on our material interests may be foretold. It would 
change the ground of political contest between races 
and parties, allay and obliterate those irritations and 
conflicts of rancour and recrimination which have 
hitherto disfigured our social fabric. Already in anti- 
cipation has its harmonious influence been felt — the 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 113 

harbinger, may it be hoped, of a lasting obhvion of 
dissensions among all classes, creeds, and parties in 
this country. Changing a subordinate for an inde- 
pendent condition, we would take our station among 
the nations of the earth. We have now no voice in 
the affairs of the empire, nor do we share in its honours 
or emoluments. England is our parent state, with 
whom we have no equality, but towards whom we 
stand in the simple relation of obedience. But as 
citizens of the United States, the public service of the 
nation would be open to us — a field for high and hon- 
ourable distinction, on which we and our posterity 
might enter on terms of perfect equality. 

Nor would the amicable separation from Great 
Britain be fraught with advantages to us alone. The 
relief to the parent state from the large expenditure 
now incurred in the military occupation of the country 
— the removal of the many causes of collision with the 
United States, which result from the contiguity of 
mutual territories so extensive — the benefit of the 
larger market, which the increasing prosperity of 
Canada would create, are considerations which, in the 
minds of many of her ablest statesmen, render our 
incorporation with the United States a desirable con- 

To the United States, also, the annexation of Canada 
presents many important inducements. The with- 
drawal from their borders of so powerful a nation, by 
whom in time of war the immense and growing com- 
merce of the lakes would be jeopardized — the ability 
to dispense with the costly but ineffectual revenue 
establishment over a frontier of many hundred miles — 
the large accession to their income from our customs — 
the unrestricted use of the St. Lawrence, the natural 
highway from the Western States to the ocean, are 
objects for the attainment of which the most substantial 
equivalents would undoubtedly be conceded. 

Fellow Colonists, — we have thus laid before you 
views and convictions on a momentous question, 


114 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

involving a change which, though contemplated by 
many of us with varied feelings and emotions, we aH 
believe to be inevitable ; one which it is our duty to 
provide for, and lawfully to promote. 

We address you without prejudice or partiality — in 
(the spirit of sincerity and truth — in the interest soledy 
of our common country, and our single aim is its 
safety and welfare. If to your judgment and reason 
our object and aim be at this time deemed laudable 
and right, we ask an oblivion of past dissensions ; and 
from all, without distinction of origin, party, or creed, 
that earnest and cordial co-operation in such lawful, 
prudent, and judicious means as may best conduct 
us to our common destiny. 

A committee of six prudent Annexationists undertook 
the task of securing signatures to the document. Their 
efforts met with immediate success, for in five hours 
325 names were obtained, almost without solicitation.* 
After that, when the first wave of enthusiasm had some- 
what subsided, and the calmer second thought of the 
public began to prevail, progress was much slower, yet 
withal encouraging. Within ten days somewhat over 
1,000 signatures were secured without much labour 
on the part of the canvassers.* But the personnel of 
the signers was even more significant than the number 
of signatures. On the list were to be found many of 
the leaders in the political and financial life of the 
city, including John Redpath, John and David Tor- 
rance, Robert Jones, a prominent Conservative politi- 
cian and member of the Legislative Council, Jacob 
Dewitt and Benjamin Holmes, Liberal members of the 
Legislative Assembly, John and William Molson, 
D. L. Macpherson, subsequently Lieutenant-Governor 
of Ontario, L. H. Holton, later a member of the Mac- 
kenzie administration, J. Rose, afterwards Sir John 
Rose, Minister of Finance in the Cabinet of Sir John 

* La Minerve, October 11, 1849. 

■ The Toronto Examiner, October 24, 1849 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 115 

Macdonald, T. Workman, and J. J. C. Abbott/ a 
future premier of Canada. A stronger and more 
influential body of men could scarcely have been 
recruited. The banking and the larger industrial and 
commercial interests were especially well represented. 

Although the great majority of the signers were 
Conservatives in their political affiliations, the names of 
a few prominent Reformers were included in the list. 
" Taking the newspapers as our guide-book," said The 
Montreal Transcript, " we are forced to the conclusion 
that, in this city, the friends of annexation are to be 
found in the ultra-Conservative party and the most 
democratic and republican of the French, One by 
one," it reluctantly admitted, " the Conservative 
journals have come over to that doctrine, and many 
influential Conservatives, who not long ago would have 
rejected the address with scorn, are now its shameless 
and unflinching advocates. And it cannot be doubted 

* In a speech in the Senate, March 15, 1889, Sir John Abbott 
said : " The annexation manifesto was the outgrowth of an out- 
burst of petulance in a small portion of the population of the Pro- 
vince of Quebec, which is amongst the most loyal of the provinces 
of Canada. Most of the people who signed the annexation manifesto 
were more loyal than the English people themselves. There were 
a few people of American origin who seized a moment of passion 
into which the people fell, to get some hundreds of people in Montreal 
to sign this paper. I venture to say that, with the exception of 
those American gentlemen, there was not a man who signed that 
manifesto who had any more serious idea of seeking annexation 
with the United States than a petulant child who strikes his nurse 
has of deliberately murdering her. They were exasperated by the 
fact that when 10,000 men, who had suffered distress and disaster 
in the unfortunate rising before those days, petitioned the Governor 
for the time being to retain for the consideration of Her Majesty 
a Bill which they believed to be passed for paying the men whom 
they blamed for the trouble, the Governor-General, with an osten- 
tatious disregard, as they beUeved, for their feelings and in contempt 
of their services and their loyalty, came down out of the usual time 
in order to sanction the Bill. The people were excited and did 
many things they ought not to have done ; they behaved in a very 
rough manner to His Excellency, which they ought not to have 
done, and within two or three days, while still under the influence 
of this excitement, a number of them signed this paper. But there 
was no evidence of any agitation by these people for annexation. 
Before the year was over, it was Uke the shower of last season. ..." 
Pope, Life of Sir John Macdonald, vol. i. p. 70. 

116 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

but that a great part of their supporters go with them 
in this strange and sad revulsion of opinion." To a 
similar effect was the declaration of The Kingston 
Herald. " It is worthy of remark that the proposition 
has not been introduced by the old tried and faithful 
adherents of reform and equal rights, but on the 
contrary by men who have ever been the stem and 
uncompromising enemies of both. The bigot, the 
exclusive High Churchman, the man of rectories and 
ecclesiastical domination, the excusers of book- 
burning and vandal ruffianism, who have been in the 
habit of calling themselves par excellence ' Britons ' 
and ' Loyal Anglo-Saxons,' have been and are the 
promoters of the treasonable proposition." The 
names of the officers of the Montreal branch of 
the League were particularly in evidence ; almost 
one-half of the Executive Council, including two of 
the Vice-Presidents, signed the manifesto, and the ex- 
ample of the officials was followed by a large number 
of the private members of the League. " The warp," 
declared The Pilot, " is high rampant Toryism " ; the 
weft, a few scattered British, Irish, French, and 
American Liberals, whose presence there is somewhat 
of a mystery. " By far the largest portion of the 
names appended to the annexation address " were, 
according to The Pilot, members of the League.^ The 
conduct of these gentlemen was, indeed, the more 
remarkable, since but a few months before the League 
had issued an address of a diametrically opposite 
character. Many other members of the League, 
according to Le Courier des Etats-Unis, felt themselves 
debarred from signing the manifesto by reason of the 
Kingston declaration, although they were secretly in 
sympathy with the movement ; and it was fondly 
believed by the Annexationists that many such would 
gladly support the address as soon as they could 
recover their freedom of action. 

The position of the free-trade Liberals, such as 

1 The Pilot, October i8, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 117 

Holmes, MacDougal, Holton, and Glass, was equally 
inconsistent, since less than a year before they had; 
protested against the petition of the Montreal Board' 
of Trade as disloyal. But, despite the fact that 
England had repealed the obnoxious Navigation Laws, 
and that the effect of the remedial legislation for which 
they had pleaded could not, as yet, be fully felt, their 
boasted loyalty had evaporated, and they were found 
clamouring for such a protective tariff under the 
United States flag.* But, in the face of economic 
distress, consistency was not a virtue of which the 
adherents of either party could boast. 

Of the names appended to the address, barely one- 
thirtieth were those of French-Canadians. ' Of the signers 
only one, the Hon, S. De Bleury, a former member 
of the Legislative Council, was a person of any political 
distinction.* With the exception of a few young men 
connected with L'Avenir and Le Moniteur, there was, 
declared The Gazette, "hardly a name on the list of 
signatures connected with politics that one knows." * 
The signers were almost all either young Radical - 
republican followers of Papineau (of whom the ablest 
representative was A. A. Dorion, subsequently leader 
of the French-Canadian Liberals) or small retail mer- 
chants who, by reason of the hard times, had adopted 
the fiscal views of their English fellow traders. Both 
in numbers and personnel the French signers were 
manifestly inferior to the formidable array of English 
Annexationists. The French republicans were, indeed, 
a feeble minority, without economic strength or 
political prestige ; the English Annexationists, on the 
contrary, were representative of the best elements 
in the city's life. 

The appearance of the address was the signal for an 
outburst of public criticism. From one end of the 
province to the other, it became the chief topic of 

* The Montreal Transcript, quoted from The Globe, October 8, 1849. 
" Le Canadien, October 12, 1849. 

• The Gazette, October 18, 1849. 

118 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

conversation. In Montreal, in particular, excitement 
was at fever heat. For the moment, it appeared as if 
the movement would sweep the city and the surrounding 
district. It was the absorbing subject of discussion 
in the counting-house, at the market-place, and even 
in the home. The press exploited the matter for all 
it was worth. Public opinion was greatly divided, but 
amongst the English population the majority appeared 
for a time to favour the Annexationists. With the 
publication of the manifesto. The Herald came out 
unequivocally in favour of annexation. Mr. Kinnear, 
the editor, was one of the first to sign the address, 
notwithstanding the fact that, shortly before, he had 
contributed an eulogistic article to an American maga- 
zine upon the prosperity of Canada. Thanks to his 
earnest championship of the movement. The Herald 
came to be looked upon as the mouthpiece of the 
annexation party. The Herald did not fail to point 
out with pride that the cause of annexation had won 
a splendid victory at the outset, in the calm, masterful 
tone of the address, and the truly cosmopolitan per- 
sonnel of the signers. " The names which are attached 
to the document prove how false are the accusations 
that there is not in this country a sentiment in favour 
of annexation." 

Such a sentiment, it contended, was not confined 
to a few disgrunted adherents of a disappointed party 
in quest of office, but was equally in evidence among 
members of both political parties, and among citizens 
of the highest social rank, and representative business 
men who were not identified with any party organiza- 
tion. The heartiness and alacrity with which the 
address was adopted afforded the most convincing 
proof " of the unanimity of almost the entire popula- 
tion." In subsequent editorials, The Herald strongly 
supported the scheme of annexation in preference to 
a federal union of the provinces. With the defeat of 
the Baldwin Ministry, it believed, all the factions in 
Lower Canada would be fused into one independent 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 119 

party, and thus put an end to racial issues. It de- 
nounced the fiscal policy of the motherland as suffici- 
ently provocative in itself to justify the colonies in 
throwing off their allegiance. Since England had 
withdrawn the preferential policy, it behoved the people 
of Canada to demonstrate their spirit of independence 
by " emerging from the state of pupilage." The con- 
duct of the English Government, it continued, had 
absolved them from their allegiance to the Crown. 
Moreover, the interests of the homeland had " from 
various circumstances become distinct from ours ; 
they have not been slow in telling us so, and even in 
regretting the necessity which forced an anti-colonial 
policy upon them. The very suggestion of separation 
and independence was not, it is notorious, first broached 
on our side of the Atlantic, but by British statesmen and 
British journalists." 

But after the first enthusiasm was over. The Herald 
began to modify the positiveness of its original declara- 
tions. Annexation was no longer represented as the 
all in all, but rather spoken of as a dernier ressorf. 
" If," it asserted, " the interests of the people at large 
are likely to be best promoted by annexation, our 
loyalty has ceased to be so strong as to make us post- 
pone them to sentiment ; but if, on the other hand, 
they are best subserved by the maintenance of the 
British connection, then we will perforce put up with 
British affronts." The question of separation was 
thus freed from sentimental considerations and reduced 
to the basis of comparative material advantage. 

The Courier was not a whit less enthusiastic about 
the appearance of the manifesto. It published a 
declaration of political independence, setting forth the 
reasons which had determined its policy. In a few 
brief words it summed up the case for annexation in 
the most effective statement of facts and fancies to 
be found in the whole literature on the subject. " We 
are annexationists as much from necessity as from 
choice, because it affords a simple escape from the 

120 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

complicated political, religious, and social obstacles 
which beset our path, because it would give us a written 
constitution, preserve us from a war of races, enlarge 
our fields of commerce, foster manufacturing interests, 
augment the value of real estate, and elevate our 
labouring classes from their present degraded and 
depressed condition." From these motives, and for 
these reasons, " and in order to get rid of a vicious 
administration, we should proclaim our independence, 
and invite our beloved Mother to sanction, and other 
nations to recognize, the same." In a moment of 
petty chagrin and disappointment, it assailed its fellow 
Conservatives of Upper Canada for their hostile atti- 
tude towards annexation and more popular democratic 
institutions. Towards the close of October, The Courier 
suspended publication, only to reappear, however, a 
few days later, as an organ of the Annexationists. 

The erratic attitude of The Gazette furnishes a most 
interesting commentary on the course of the annexation 
movement. Prior to the issue of the manifesto. The 
Gazette, as we have seen, had been suspicious of the 
" hole-in-the-comer methods " of the annexation 
leaders. It was, however, duly impressed by the 
eminence and respectability of the signers of the mani- 
festo, towards whom it showed an unusual degree of 
courtesy and consideration, but it still kept up its 
adverse criticism of the political rr\ethods of the Annex- 
ationists. "A great portion," it admitted, "of the 
men of wealth and standing among the inhabitants of 
British origin in Montreal have arrived deliberately 
at the conclusion that the colonial connection ought to 
be dissolved." But the sudden and private manner in 
which the address was prepared, and the unsatisfactory 
form of its composition, were not in its favour. Although 
a great mistake in judgment had been made in failing 
to consult the outside public about the preparation of 
the document, The Gazette admitted that the sincerity 
of the leaders of the movement, and the respectability 
of the signers, could not be questioned in any way 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 121 

even by the most captious critic. If the address had 
been prepared by a popularly selected delegation, it 
would have been received with much greater confidence 
by the general public. It should not have been the 
product of a Cabal, but the result of a great public 

The Gazette professed itself " unable to go as fast as 
the signers of the manifesto." But as there was little 
prospect of the continuance of the British connection, 
unless a great change should come over English public 
opinion, " it did not feel opposed to the ultimate 
decision of fate, when the time should come." As 
British subjects, however, they should exhaust all 
means of alleviating the prevailing distress before 
finally determining upon separation. " Nor do our 
private views differ materially from those who have 
signed the manifesto. It is only from our anxiety to 
proceed with due caution, and a proper regard to the 
effect that the action of Montreal ought to have upon 
the country at large, which leads us to point out the 
preferable mode of attaining the common ultimate 
end. There should be no hesitation or division of 
opinion among the opponents of the existing regime 
about thoroughly informing the English Government 
and people of the real state of public feeling in Canada. 
But to attempt to hasten the prospect of separation 
would, in its opinion, only defeat the object in view." * 

The equivocal attitude of The Gazette lent some 
credence to the accusation that its editor had been 
offended because the paper had not been permitted 
to play the leading part in the movement. This charge 
The Gazette indignantly denied. All those who favoured 
annexation, but disapproved of the style or material 
of the address, had, it contended, a right to complain 
of the injury done to the cause by the publication of 
an unsatisfactory document. The manifesto was 
neither well written nor properly arranged. The 
premises were totally inadequate to carry the conclu- 
* The Gazette, October ii, 1849. 

122 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

sion, and many of the statements were unsupported 
by any official evidence. Under these circumstances. 
The Gazette annoimced that it would not take a promi- 
nent part in the agitation, but would limit itself to 
supporting the Annexationists where they did right, 
and to endeavouring to check them where they went 

It especially warned the Annexationists against at- 
tempting any hasty action, since there were several 
most important matters on which the public would 
require assurances before they finally determined to 
sever the imperial tie. Canadians were entitled to 
know first of all the terms of separation from the 
motherland, and the relation of England to the United 
States after the incorporation of Canada in the Union. 
The slightest consideration of England's past favours 
towards the colony must lead to the conclusion that 
Canadians ought to establish the incompatibility of 
English and Canadian interests to the satisfaction of 
the English people before they ventured to approach 
the British Government with a request for release from 
the colonial tie. Furthermore, the country ought also 
to be assured that, in case of annexation, there would 
be a settlement of the most dangerous domestic ques- 
tion, the racial issue, and that there would be neither 
a war of races nor the domination of one race over 

The matter of the terms of annexation raised, in 
the mind of The Gazette, very serious and critical ques- 
tions.* They ought not to take a leap in the dark, 
nor trust to the generosity of their neighbours. * Among 
the questions which demanded serious consideration 
were the following : Should Canada be admitted into 

^ The Gazette, October 12, 1849. 

» Ibid., October 13, 1849. 

3 Ibid. 

* In a subsequent editorial The Gazette stated : " We must have 
an opportunity to understand what we are called to participate in, 
before we can with prudence or honour throw ourselves unreservedly 
into the annexation fad " (October 20, 1849). 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 128 

the Union as a single state, or divided up into several 
distinct states ? What should be done with the Mari- 
time Provinces, with the imperial property and guar- 
antees, and with the public debts ? Would the 
United States assume the provincial debt of Canada, 
or would the latter be burdened with a full share of 
the American indebtedness ? What arrangements 
would be made in respect to the seignorial tenure, the 
clergy reserves, and provincial boundaries ? These 
and many other questions demanded satisfactory 
answers before the country could properly consider 
the general question of annexation. In forcing the 
issue on too rapidly, without due preliminary con- 
sideration, the leaders of the annexation party would 
assuredly meet with a repulse, and find it necessary 
to retrace their steps, if they desired to carry the 
country with them.* Indeed, the hasty promulgation 
of the manifesto was likely to retard rather than to 
advance the cause of annexation ; for although the 
injustice of the Rebellion Losses Bill had released the 
loyalists from their allegiance to the Crown, the old 
feeling of affection for the homeland was as yet too 
strong to permit of the dissolution of the imperial tie 
in an indecent and improper manner.* 

But notwithstanding this criticism, The Gazette con- 
cluded : " The feeling is without a doubt spreading 
that the final result of all our moves in Canada, unless 
checked by Great Britain, will be into the arms of the 
United States. We believe so ourselves." After all its 
dubious wobblings, The Gazette at last came out freely 
for Canadian independence, in preference to annexa- 
ation, " because we are convinced that it is worth a 
trial, and that it is attainable, while we believe that 
Great Britain will never consent to a bare, unqualified 
demand to hand us over to the United States." ' 

The Witness was so much pleased with the manifesto, 
that it began a series of articles in favour of annexation ; 

* The Gazette, October 15, 1849. » Ibid., October 17, 1849. 

» Ibid., October '23, 1849. 

124 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

but the sharp protest of the Hon, M. Cameron, together 
with the criticism of some of its readers, led it to stop 
the pubhcation of the articles in question. It declared, 
by way of explanation, that there were certain other 
reforms, such as the abolition of the clergy reserves 
and ecclesiastical tithes, which ought to precede an- 
nexation, and that it would consequently devote its 
attention, for the present, to the discussion of these 
more pressing matters. 

The Transcript, as was to be expected, came out 
flat-footed against the address. In an exceptionally 
keen analysis of the social, economic, and political 
conditions which had produced the manifesto, it de- 
clared : " We doubt if an act so questionable in itself 
was ever before sent forth in so questionable a manner. 
Notwithstanding the unanimous refusal of the Kingston 
Convention to sanction annexation, a handful of 
Montrealers " decide on their own mere motion on 
this most delicate and difficult question." Of the 
signers, it continued, there are some " who really 
believe that annexation to the States would be a remedy 
for the evils from which we suffer, and who desire it, 
therefore, on patriotic grounds as being best for the 
interests of the country. Many of these parties fly 
to annexation as a relief from the turmoils of our own 
Government. They see no other cure for the dissen- 
sions which divide us." But however much " we may 
admire the unselfish motives and the high-minded feel- 
ings " by which they are influenced, we cannot but 
realize that annexation, far from relieving these evils, 
would rather increase them. " Next to this class, we 
find a considerable number of merchants and traders 
who have suffered severely from the depression of the 
times, and who have no hope in the revival of our 
system. They lay everything to the withdrawal of 
protection, and will not wait to see what a little time 
will do. Among them are some quondam free traders 
who are in an amazing hurry to falsify their own 
theories. Doubtless they feel uneasy at the economic 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 125 

outlook ; but with the many evidences of a revival of 
trade about them and knowing full well as business 
men the liability of all countries to periods of com- 
mercial depression, they act impatiently in seeking to 
drive the country into immediate annexation. But 
there is still another class of annexationists, the most 
zealous, though not the most numerous, whose feelings 
are certainly far less disinterested than those of either 
of the previous classes. These are the holders of real 
estate in the city. We have not a great deal of sym- 
pathy with these gentlemen in their desire for higher 
rents. As a mere Montreal real property movement, 
we look upon annexation as anything but a patriotic 

On one point only. The Transcript continued, were 
the Annexationists agreed, namely, to get rid of 
the British connection. To that end, they showed the 
greatest eagerness in " accentuating the evils of the 
country, and in assigning to the whole province a 
condition of wretchedness which is mainly existent in 
Montreal. To all such clamours, we need only reply 
that prosperity will return in time without the aban- 
donment of British allegiance." Besides, it was most 
unfair for the Annexationists to present only the dark 
side of the picture, and to hold the colonial regime 
responsible for the depression which was partly due, 
at least, to their own unlucky speculations. 

The reference of the manifesto to the dangerous 
position of Canada in case of war between England 
and the United States would bring a blush of shame 
to the cheek of thousands of honest-hearted Britons 
throughout the country. It was criminal to think 
that England would engage in an unjust war ; but, 
should war occur, she would make every sacrifice for 
the defence of Canada. There must needs be a great 
change in the sentiments of Canadians of EngUsh stock, 
before they would allow their allegiance to be affected 
by such a miserable pretext. 

The belief that a " political revolution " was at hand 

126 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

in Canada was, according to The Transcript, much more 
prevalent in the minds of Yankees and EngHsh Radicals 
who favoured such a revolution, than amongst the 
Canadian people. Although the virus of annexation 
was widely scattered throughout the province, it was 
not likely to produce serious effects. Already the 
public press of Quebec had condemned the manifesto 
as false in its premises and misleading in its conclusion 
— false, inasmuch as it misrepresented the economic 
situation of Canada and the attitude of the English 
public ; and misleading, in that it professed to make 
the consent of England a condition precedent to sepa- 
ration, when, if the premises were true, annexation 
would be desirable even if England should object 
thereto. The country at large would doubtless ratify 
this judgment, notwithstanding the alluring promises 
of material prosperity and social rest held out by the 

However much the question might be openly can- 
vassed in Montreal, it had not yet been seriously con- 
sidered by the country at large. To have any chance 
of success, annexation must cease to be a local or a 
party question and become the great provincial issue. 
" At the present time we have no evidence of this 
national movement, nor do we think that it is at all 
likely that it will take place. Men will require much 
more evidence than they now possess, before they will 
agree to abandon their present allegiance. All we see 
at present is a small party in this city, a party respect- 
able, we acknowledge, in the character of its members, 
but certainly not in a position to dictate either to the 
province at large or to this community. The party 
has only had a few weeks' existence as a party, and 
presents nothing in its composition which can invite 
confidence." ' 

The Transcript was especially earnest in warning 
its fellow Conservatives against any alliance with the 
French republicans. The Conservative Party was not 

» Quoted from The Globe, October i6, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 127 

■*' cut out " for republican institutions. " Every natural 
thought, every natural act, every impulse of the party 
;gives, and has given, the lie to such a union. They 
may cheat themselves into the belief that annexation 
is practicable and desirable, or be led away by a sense 
of injury, but they can never be reconciled to republi- 
canism." It would involve a recasting of their social 
usages and habits, a total surrender " of the soul and 
body to the imperious tyranny of a democratic re- 
public " ; it would mean more than a change of Govern- 
ment, " it would bring about a social revolution." 

Besides, there could be little real sympathy between 
them and their French allies. The aim of Papineau 
was French domination, an idea fundamentally opposed 
to that of his Anglo-Saxon supporters, who " probably 
imagine that by making a bargain with the neighbour- 
ing Union their influence will be all in all, and that the 
influence of their French allies will count for nothing." 
One or the other party was being deceived, and that 
party was certainly not the French. " So far from 
their influence prevailing, the influence of Mr. Papineau 
and his friends is much more likely to turn the scale 
than that of the British ultra-Conservative Party." 
Under such circumstances. Conservatives should be 
especially careful how they involved themselves in a 
dangerous movement. British citizenship, The Tran- 
script concluded, was no valueless thing to be exchanged 
for a mess of pottage. If the Annexationists pursued 
their present blind policy, the people of the colony 
would go down in history as guilty of the basest in- 
gratitude towards the parent state, in using their newly 
acquired constitutional freedom " to sell themselves 
to the Yankees." 

The New Era, a recently established Tory paper, 
followed the lead of The Transcript in opposing annexa- 
tion, and supporting the principles of the League, 
protection and a union of the provinces. 

The Pilot was equally vigorous in its condemnation 
of the manifesto. So far did it carry its opposition, 

128 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

that it refused to open its columns to the pubHcation 
of the address. A protest by a small group of prominent 
Liberal Annexationists,^ against what they considered 
the unfair attitude of the paper, served only to call 
forth the crushing reply that, even if the address had 
been handed to The Pilot at the same time as to the 
other journals (which, however, was not the case), it 
would not have been inserted. The Pilot " would not 
lend its columns to the dismemberment of the empire." 
The Annexationists could get the Tory organs to do 
their publishing for them, for the ministerial press 
would refuse to do so. The Liberals of Montreal would 
not throw away the substance of good government 
they now enjoyed for the shadowy benefits of annexa- 
tion. That was the spirit in which they rejected the 
pressure placed upon them to sign an address which 
they had never read. The Annexationists, it believed, 
had adopted a mistaken policy in issuing a manifesto 
instead of establishing a paper to advocate their 

With the majority of people, annexation was, as 
yet, " more a matter of feeling than of reflection." 
The disaffected " and the disappointed wish for a 
change, and that is the change which appears easiest 
and most feasible." Although annexation was an open 
question in both parties, it was especially disconcerting 
to the great mass of loyal Reformers to find a few 
Liberal politicians uniting with the Tories in promoting 
the cause of annexation. The Pilot loudly called upon 
all Reformers to avoid such an entangling alliance 
and to range themselves loyally under the party flag. 

In a series of able editorials it attacked seriatim the 
arguments of the address. Canada, it declared, was 
now suffering " from mushroom organizations." The 
majority of the signers were members of the League 
which had recently proposed a different means of saving 

* Messrs. Boyer, McKay, Holton, Workman, De Witt, Hart, 
Glass, Bnineau, Holmes, and Knapp. 
» The Pilot, October ii, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 129 

society. " Such extraordinary tergiversation in their 
past conduct bodes ill for their future consistency, as 
such extreme haste in adopting a new system betokens 
little study and labour in the concoction of it." They 
had simply accepted it without due consideration as 
the best means at hand for promoting the prosperity 
of Montreal. But before distracting the country by 
such an agitation, the Annexationists should offer the 
most convincing proof — first, that the Canadian public 
desired annexation; second, that the majority of the 
inhabitants of the other British North American colonies 
supported it; third, that England was prepared to grant 
it ; and finally, that the United States was ready to 
incorporate Canada in the Union, But on all these 
points there was a signal lack of satisfactory evidence. 
Only in Montreal was annexation regarded as a really 
vital issue. All the Reform and most of the Conserva- 
tive papers, especially in Upper Canada, had pronounced 
against it. Neither was any evidence offered on the 
second proposition, to prove that public opinion in the 
Maritime Provinces was less unfavourable to annexa- 
tion than in Canada. In regard to the third proposi- 
tion, it was entirely unwarranted to assume that 
either the British Government, or the nation at large, 
desired to compel, or even to induce, the colonies to 
dissolve their allegiance, merely because Lord John 
Russell and other English statesmen favoured the 
policy of throwing off on the colonies the whole burden 
and responsibility of their own administration. The 
fourth and last proposition, which required to be es- 
tablished, was equally doubtful. For, even though 
Great Britain should agree to peaceful separation, 
annexation " could be effected only after long and 
difficult negotiations, even if it were possible to be 
effected at all with the Union as it is now composed." 
The Pilot did not hesitate to attack the blue-ruin 
cry which the Annexationists had unscrupulously made 
the chief issue of the day. It endeavoured to prove 
by a liberal use of statistics that the existing depression 

130 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

was mainly confined to the Montreal district, and that 
business conditions throughout the province were 
already improving, as was evidenced by an increase 
in the public revenue and the canal tolls.* The action 
of the Montreal Conservatives in raising the annexation 
cry at the very moment when the Government was 
about to enter upon negociations for reciprocity with 
the United States was, according to The Pilot, exceed- 
ingly unpatriotic. A continuance of the present agita- 
tion would inevitably weaken the hands of the British 
Government in dealing with a foreign power, and might 
even endanger the success of the negociations. The 
Pilot explicitly denied the contention of the Annexa- 
tionists that the expenses of the Government of Canada 
were higher than those of the neighbouring states, and 
that the danger of international complications would 
be less if they were American citizens instead of 
British subjects." 

On the other hand, it concluded, Canadians would 
lose by annexation the healthy and liberal spirit of 
public criticism, which was characteristic of English 
public life as contrasted with that of the United 
States, a loss which could not well be estimated in 
terms of mammon. Throughout the whole controversy 
the tone of The Pilot, unlike that of several of its con- 
temporaries, was admirable. Although arraigning the 
conduct of the Tory Party in no uncertain terms, it 
did not permit its partisanship to run away with its 
judgment. It recognized the seriousness of the issue 
which was presented, and endeavoured to discuss the 
question in the calm and reasonable spirit which its 
importance demanded. 

The skill of the political cartoonist was likewise 
placed at the service of the British connection. Punch 
in Canada, the one distinctive comic paper of the pro- 
vince, used the gentle art of raillery with telling effec- 
tiveness against the Annexationists. It pictured the 
sorry state in which Papineau and his young Radical 

* The Pilot, October 16, 1849. • Ibid., October 25, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 181 

compatriots would find themselves in case of a political 
miion with the United States. Even more effective 
were the cartoons at the expense of the English Annexa- 
tionists at Montreal, Mr. Benjamin Holmes was made 
a special object of attack. He and his friends were 
represented as small boys who were caught in the act 
of trying to pawn their mother's pocket-handkerchief 
to Uncle Sam. It did not even hesitate to attack 
the convivial propensities of the member for Montreal . 
The commercial side of the annexation movement was 
hit off admirably by " a business flourometer " : 

" Flour, 33s. per barrel — loyalty up. 
Flour, 26s. per barrel- — cloudy. 
Flour, 225. per barrel — down to annexation." 

It must be admitted that in the battle of the press 
the pro-British papers had considerably the better of 
the argument over their opponents. The latter were 
by no means sure of their own position, and were 
divided in their counsels between annexation and in- 
dependence. They were prone to appeal to racial 
prejudices and partisan antipathies ; they engaged in 
general denunciation of both the local and English 
Governments without seriously attempting to analyse 
the situation of affairs, or to ascertain to what extent 
the free-trade policy of England was really responsible 
for existing conditions in the colony. The pro-British 
papers, on the other hand, were much less partisan 
and intolerant in their views ; with few exceptions, 
they endeavoured to argue the question out on its 
merits, trusting that the calm judgment of the public 
would sustain their reasoning. 

The French press again divided on strict party lines. 
L'Avenir hailed the manifesto as the most important 
doctrine since the Ninety-Two Resolutions. It ex- 
pressed the greatest satisfaction at finding the names 
of many leading French Canadians in the list of signa- 
tures : " C'est un appel fait a toutes les classes, et a 
toutes les parties, d'oublier les anciennes causes de 
division, pour se reunir dans le bout d'obtenir ce dont 

132 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

le pays a le plus puissant besoin, la prosperite avec 
I'annexion." By remaining outside the movement, 
the French-Canadians would sacrifice the future of their 
race and of the colony, and subject themselves for all 
time to the tyranny of the Colonial Office, from which 
they had suffered so long. The movement, according 
to L'Avenir, was spontaneous in its origin, and had 
met with a ready response from the French merchants. 
The bearers of the address, it boasted, had found only 
three persons who really objected to annexation, 
although several had desired time for consideration 
before attaching their signatures, L'Avenir thought 
that a better way of verifying public sentiment might 
perhaps have been found ; but, since the manifesto 
was issued, all sympathizers should lend their hearty 
support to the movement.^ 

La Minerve, on the contrary, looked upon the address 
as a sad page in the history of Canada. It accused 
the Conservative Party of taking up the question of 
annexation for the purpose of defeating the Govern- 
ment, rather than from any real desire for a political 
union with the United States.* The attitude of several 
of the other French papers was likewise critical. L'Ami 
de la Religion declared that it was not at all surprised 
at the appearance of the manifesto, since events had 
been pointing towards annexation for some time. It 
did not regard the address as an occasion for either 
gratification or chagrin and shame. Looked at from 
the standpoint of French nationality, annexation was 
undesirable, but any opposition to annexation on this 
ground was greatly weakened by the bitter controver- 
sies of the French press and parties, which threatened 
to destroy all sense of racial solidarity. 

It was admitted, on the other hand, even by those 
who were opposed to separation, that annexation was 
inevitable in the not far distant future. L'Echo des 
Campagnes approached the subject from a very in- 

* L'Avenir y October 13, 1849. 
' La Minerve, October 18, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 133 

teresting but practical standpoint. There were, it 
declared, three classes of annexationists : first, partisans 
calmes ; second, outres ; and third, partisans tiedes. In 
the third class were to be found the former Tories, 
who had been in despair since the day of their defeat. 
They had at first raised the cry for annexation in the 
hope of overthrowing the Government by causing a 
division in the Liberal ranks. They had played with 
fire, and got burned in consequence. To-day the de- 
mand for annexation was serious, but they could not 
well draw back ; they were led on unwillingly, and 
even in spite of themselves. Very little sjnnpathy 
could be felt for those persons of wealth and ambition 
who had joined the movement with a view to exploiting 
it to their own advantage.' 

Although on general principles annexation would be 
advantageous, nevertheless, the benefits of union would, 
it contended, be more than offset by the restrictions 
which annexation would place upon the powers of the 
local legislature to deal freely with the greatest of 
local problems, the seignorial system of tenure. The 
judicial interpretation of Article i, Section lo of the 
United States Constitution, in respect " to the impair- 
ment of the obligation of contracts," would effectually 
prevent the local government from abolishing the 
burdens of the feudal system.* The validity of this 
argument was denied by L'Avenir, but without greatly 
weakening its effect upon the intelligent part of the 
French-Canadian public' 

The sober demeanour of the great majority of the 
French Ministerialists showed the splendid discipline 
of the clergy and the party leaders. The rank and 
file of the party refused to commit themselves in any 
way to the annexation movement, until there had 
been an official expression of opinion from their spiritual 
and political guides. The Papineau party, it was 

^ L'Echo des Catnpagnes, October 18, 1849. 
' Ibid., November 2, 1849. '" 

' L'Av$nir, November 15, 1849? 

134 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

admitted, had gained considerable strength by its 
union with the Annexationists, but it was still too 
weak to grapple alone with the Government. The 
real state of French opinion would, in the judgment 
of The Montreal Gazette, never be known until the 
Lafontaine Ministry was driven out of office.* 

The favourable reception of the manifesto encouraged 
the annexation leaders to proceed to the formation 
of a permanent organization somewhat after the type 
of the English Anti-Corn Law League. The organiza- 
tion of such an association was, in the opinion of 
L'Avenir, all that was required to make the Annexa- 
tionists " the strongest and most numerous political 
party in the country." The association, it was pro- 
posed, should enter upon an aggressive educational 
campaign, and flood the country with tracts and 
speakers. A call was accordingly sent out by about 
one hundred of the signers of the address, summoning 
a meeting to organize an association. The committee 
of arrangements requested several prominent politicians 
and merchants, including Papineau, Holmes, De Witt, 
De Bleury, Workman, and others to address the meet- 
ing, and otherwise assist in the work of organization. 

Papineau, however, much to his regret, was unable 
to be present ; but in a letter to the Committee he 
expressed the strongest sympathy with the judicious 
efforts which were being made to obtain for all Cana- 
dians the right to govern themselves, instead of being 
governed by a distant authority. Under the colonial 
regime, he declared, the interests, desires, and neces- 
sities of Canada were being sacrificed. Distance alone, 
not to mention the essential differences in the social 
conditions and economic interests of the two countries, 
made good government from Westminster impossible. 

As far back as 1823, in consultation with English 
political leaders, he had advocated the independence 
of Canada, and they had all admitted that it would 
be to the mutual advantage of both countries to part 

' The Gazette, October 18, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 135 

company. Voluntary separation, he urged, was much 
preferable to a warlike dissolution of the imperial tie, 
such as had been effected by the United States. British 
statesmen did not maintain that the connection should 
be perpetual, but only that it should be prolonged, for 
fear that if Canada were incorporated in the American 
Republic, the other North American colonies would 
soon follow suit. Such a splendid addition of wealthy 
states to the American Union would, it was feared, 
make the United States a dangerous economic com- 
petitor in the markets of the world. The government 
of the colony had, he declared, become most corrupt 
and expensive. The grant of responsible government 
could not rescue the country from depression, since 
England would not change her fiscal policy to please 
the colonies. Had he been in Montreal at the date 
of the issuance of the manifesto, he would have been 
one of the first to support its judicious, patriotic, and 
reasonable declaration of principles. 

On account of ill health, the Hon. S. De Bleury also 
found it impossible to be present at the meeting. In 
a letter to the committee expressing his regrets, he 
deplored the evils from which the country was suffering. 
The condition of affairs was, he declared, even worse 
than at the time of the Ninety-Two Articles. The only 
hope of relief was to be found in peaceful separation, 
to be followed by annexation to the United States. 
But Annexationists must first show to England by 
public demonstrations and petitions that the majority 
of the people of Canada desired a change of allegiance. 
" Courage, then, citizens of Quebec ; to the work, and 
at once." 

Although the purpose of the meeting was merely to 
effect a permanent organization, the gathering took 
on the character of a public demonstration in force. 
According to the annexation papers, the hall was in- 
capable of holding the crowd who sought admission. 
The audience was largely composed of prominent busi- 
ness n^en of the city. Apparently only a few French- 

136 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

Canadians were present, and such of them as partici- 
pated in the proceedings belonged to the " Young 
Canada " party. John Redpath was chosen chairman, 
and Messrs. John Glass and G. P. E. Dorion acted as 
joint secretaries. In his opening remarks, Mr. Redpath 
declared that the commercial distress of the colony 
was due to the action of Great Britain in withdrawing 
protection from colonial products. Canada, he ad- 
mitted, could not properly question the right of England 
to change her fiscal policy, even though such change, 
as in the present instance, inflicted the severest suffering 
upon the colonies. But, under these circumstances, 
Canada must needs look to her own interests. It was 
incumbent upon them to take measures to stop the 
drain of thousands of skilled artisans to the United 

He enlarged at length upon the prosperity of the 
States as contrasted with the poverty of Canada : 
prices were 20 per cent, and property 50 per cent, 
higher across the line than in this province. To save 
the country from impending ruin, annexation was 
absolutely necessary. The League was, in his opinion, 
" going in a roundabout way to attain what they, as 
Annexationists, sought to secure by direct means " 
(cheers). Annexation was the only subject which had 
aroused real interest at the Kingston Convention. He 
was advocating annexation, not for any party purpose, 
but solely for the advantage of the country. Partisan- 
ship had been the curse of the province, and he hoped 
that the Canadian people would now bury all past 
dissensions and unite on the policy of annexation. 

In moving the first resolution in favour of the forma- 
tion of an annexation association, Mr. H. Taylor 
declared that he respected the motives of those who 
were strongly opposing the present movement, for he, 
too, honoured the Queen as much as any of them. 
Some of their opponents, however, were actuated by 
personal interests and considerations. He felt that he 
owed his first loyalty to the country in which he lived. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 137 

Union and organization were necessary to attain the 
object they had in view. In seconding the resolution, 
J. De Witt, M.P,, instituted a comparison between 
the economic conditions of Canada and of the United 
States, most unfavourable to the former. The agri- 
cultural, railroad, and steamship interests, in fact, 
every interest in the country was suffering severely. 
The people of Canada should rise up, and make their 
country truly great. They should act like men, and 
not like children and dependents. Above all, they 
must place their country above party. 

The second resolution, which was proposed by 
B. Holmes, M.P., read : " That our state of colonial 
dependence can only be prolonged at the sacrifice of 
our most valuable interests ; and that this meeting, 
considering the social, commercial, and political diffi- 
culties of Canada, and feeling the weight of the evils 
which oppress our society, believe that the only attain- 
able measure capable of improving permanently our 
condition consists in a peaceable separation from Great 
Britain, and the annexation of Canada to the United 
States of America." 

In moving the resolution, the local member denied 
that the Annexationists were unfriendly to the mother- 
land. The address, he stated, had limited itself to a 
simple statement of the facts of the case. The Annexa- 
tionists had an equal right with the pro-Britishers to 
express an opinion on the existing situation. The 
manifesto of the latter had been signed by hundreds 
" who are unknown in the city, and by a large number 
of officials, and by others who are advocates of restric- 
tion and protection, and by a few free traders," Every 
one admitted that separation would come in time, 
and why not now, when thousands were crossing the 
line on account of the free-trade policy of England. 
So far from criticizing the action of England in this 
regard, he would rather cut off his right hand than 
see the English people starve owing to the Com Laws, 
The repeal of the Navigation Acts, though tardily 

138 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

granted, would be of some advantage, but it could not 
alter the Canadian climate. Reciprocity was unfor- 
tunately not now obtainable, though it might have 
been a few years ago, before Canada had uttered 
threats of secession. The United States desired the 
whole of Canada, in order to round out their empire, 
and " they know that by withholding reciprocity they 
can force us into annexation." The Canadian farmers 
could not successfully compete with their American 
neighbours. They could afford " to admire England, 
but not to starve for her." The economic interests 
of England were incompatible with those of Canada. 
England would not return to a protective policy, nor 
would she encourage, but rather discourage, the growth 
of colonial manufactures. One of the important effects 
of annexation would be to bring American capital into 
the country, which would raise the rate of wages, and 
enable the manufacturers of Montreal to compete on 
an equal footing with the Lowell manufacturers. In 
order to attain their end, Annexationists must go to 
the polls, and elect a majority of members to the local 
legislature. England, he was convinced, would not 
refuse to accede to the demand of the Canadian 
Parliament for separation. 

A similar view was expressed by Mr. Molson in 
seconding the resolution. He desired to make annexa- 
tion the test question at the coming elections. For 
his part, he would not support any candidate for 
Parliament, Whig or Tory, who was not an annexa- 
tionist. He summed up his political principles in the 
statement that " this country and himself were first," 
and he would stick to that. Mr. Robert McKay de- 
clared that, although the Annexationists were now 
charged with treason, time would prove that they 
were right. As their opponents were endeavouring to 
deny them the right of expressing their feelings, they 
should start an active campaign for the extirpation of 
the ignorance, bigotry, and intolerance of their critics. 

The third resolution, which ran to the effect that, 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 139 

" burying all past dissensions," they should bind them- 
selves to co-operate by all lawful means to promote 
the object of the association, and that to this end 
they should invite the Canadian people to form similar 
associations in the same fraternal spirit, was moved by 
Mr. John Rose, Q.C, one of the most influential lawyers 
of the city. He urged that they should not allow 
their zeal to be chilled by the strength of the opposition. 
The demand for separation had arisen in England, not 
in Canada. In proof of this statement, he cited the 
opinions of many English statesmen to the effect that 
Canada was not wanted. Lord Vincent had predicted 
that Canada would be a " running sore " to the mother- 
land ; Mr. Sherwin, one of the permanent Under- 
Secretaries, had recently stated before a Committee 
of Parliament that he would not regard a colonial 
revolt as treason. Lord Ashburton had also told them 
plainly that they were free to join the States, if they 
so desired. When English statesmen said these things, 
why should Canadian Annexationists be charged with 
treason ? For his part, he regretted the necessity of 
a separation from the mother country, but they could 
still keep alive their old affection for her. It was a 
sublime, and not a base, ideal for England to adopt 
the policy of training up the colonies to take their 
places among the nations. He was convinced that 
he could best prove his loyalty by endeavouring to 
promote the interests of his adopted land, in accord- 
ance with the desires of the English Government and 

The Hon. Robert Jones stated that he had signed 
the address only after long consideration, and that he 
was prepared to assume full responsibility for his 
action. Both the aims and methods of the Annexa- 
tionists were legitimate and proper. The principle of 
responsible government, in his judgment, could not be 
worked successfully in this country ; in fact, the people 
had been worse off since its introduction. The pro- 
gressive opinion of the day laid it down as a political 

140 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

maxim, that the republican form of government could 
alone promote the prosperity of the human race. 

In an able legal argument, Mr. F. G. Johnston, Q.C., 
maintained that the members of the association were 
acting within the limits of their constitutional rights 
as British citizens. As the object of the association 
was peaceful, there could be no question of treason 
or disloyalty. The movement was not designed, as 
some of their opponents maliciously represented, to 
secure annexation at all hazards and by any means 
whatever. The movement was not specious or arti- 
ficial ; it arose out of the dire necessity of the time. 
Protection was now out of the question in England, 
and reciprocity with the United States was impossible, 
since the latter country could dictate to Canada what 
terms it desired, and those terms would undoubt- 
edly be annexation. Several of the French-Canadian 
speakers urged their compatriots to join with their 
English fellow citizens in the movement for annexation. 
Canada, Mr. Latt6 declared, could never become great 
as a colony ; she must first become independent before 
she could hope for national prosperity. 

The audience was enthusiastic in its support of the 
speakers, and all the resolutions were carried unani- 
mously. A committee was appointed, consisting of 
Messrs. McKay, Dorion, Torrance, MulhoUand, and 
Ostell, to nominate a ticket of officers, to be submitted, 
and voted upon, at a future meeting of the association. 
A constitution, setting forth the object of the asso- 
ciation, and providing for the administration of its 
affairs, was drawn up by the committee in charge, 
and duly adopted. The association mapped out an 
ambitious programme. It proposed to offer a prize of 
from $300 to $500 for the best monograph on annexa- 
tion, to be distributed at the lowest possible price, to 
send public lecturers over the province, to organize 
branch associations in local centres, to lend financial 
assistance to annexation papers, to participate in 
elections by securing the return to Parliament of mem- 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 141 

bers who were favourable to independence or annexa- 
tion, and to hold a provincial congress, when sufficient 
branches should have been organized throughout the 
colony to assure a representative gathering. The 
association expressly repudiated any idea of resorting 
to party violence to promote its objects. 

At the adjourned meeting of the association for 
the election of officers, only about sixty persons were 
present.^ The nominating committee brought in its 
recommendations, and the following officers were duly 
elected : President, John Redpath ; Vice-Presidents, 
John D. Torrance, J. De Witt, L. H. Holton, W. 
Workman, D. E. Papineau, P. Drumgoole, and 
F. B. Anderson ; Councillors, H. Stephens, W. Molson, 
D. Kinnear, J. Rose, J, Papin, J. Bell, R, Laflamme, 
and J, Ostell ; Treasurer, D, Torrance; Secretaries, 
R. McKay and A. A. Dorion. 

In pursuance of the policy of carrying on an active 
agitation, the secretaries subsequently sent circulars to 
all parts of the provinces, announcing the formation 
of the Montreal association, soliciting the assistance 
and co-operation of friends and sympathizers, urging 
the formation of branch associations, and enclosing 
copies of the manifesto.'' An office was established in 
St. Jacques Street, to serve as a permanent bureau of 
the association. Mr. Perry, of The Herald, was in- 
stalled as assistant secretary, at a salary of £150 a 
year, with instructions to keep in touch with the 
movement in all parts of the comitry. A very inter- 
esting pamphlet was prepared by the association for 
general circulation. It set forth in detail the com- 
parative advantages and disadvantages of the Canadian 
and American forms of government. Special attention 
was devoted to a statement of the cost of the executive, 
judicial, legislative, and military departments of the 
State of New York, as compared with the cost of 
administering the same departments in Canada.* Need- 

^ November 15, 1849. 2 Weir, Sixty Years in Canada. 

' L'Avenir, November 30, 1849. 

142 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

less to say, the comparison in almost every item was 
made to appear most unfavourable to Canada. 

The bold manner in which the Annexationists carried 
on their treasonable propaganda demanded the serious 
attention of the Canadian Government. As long as 
the agitation was confined to the Tory Party, the 
Ministry did not deem it advisable to interfere ; but 
when the movement began to spread among a section 
of the Reformers of Upper Canada, it was felt that 
the time had come for a definite declaration of policy 
on the part of the Government. Upon the Hon. Robert 
Baldwin devolved the unpleasant duty of dealing with 
the dangerous situation which had arisen in the ranks 
of the party. It was a fortunate thing for the empire 
that there stood at the head of the Provincial Govern- 
ment at this moment a man of the character of Robert 
Baldwin. By reason of his ability, soundness of judg- 
ment, unquestioned probity, and long and valiant 
service in the struggle for constitutional freedom, he 
had gained a striking ascendency in the councils of 
his party and at the same time had won the respect 
of many of his opponents. His strong feelings of 
attachment to the British connection had been proved 
by his conduct during the revolt of 1837. Even a 
keen sense of political injustice, and a strong feeling 
of resentment against the partisan and arbitrary action 
of the Tory Governor, had not been able to drive him 
into the seditious plots of the more extreme Reformers. 
He had been throughout his career loyally attached 
to the British Crown, and a great admirer of British 

The approaching bye-election for the Third Riding 
of York afforded Baldwin an excellent opportunity of 
voicing his opinion on the question of annexation. In 
this case there was the greater reason for a decisive 
expression of party policy, since Mr. Peter Perry, the 
prospective Reform candidate, was known to be more 
or less sympathetic towards the views of the Annexa- 
tionists. During a visit to Montreal a short time 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 143 

before, he had, according to report, openly avowed 
himself an annexationist. In the candidature of Mr. 
Perry, the annexation issue was unmistakably pre- 
sented to the party and to the electorate. Mr. Baldwin 
did not hesitate to throw down the gage of battle 
to the suspected Annexationists within the party. On 
the very eve of the publication of the Montreal mani- 
festo,^ he addressed an historic letter to Mr. Perry 
in which he declared, in no uncertain language, that the 
maintenance of the British connection was a funda- 
mental principle of the Reform Party. His letter 
read as follows : 

" My dear Sir, 

" The expediency of applying to the mother 
country to give these colonies a separate national 
existence, or to permit them to annex themselves to 
the neighbouring Republic, has become a subject, not 
only openly discussed in some of the leading journals 
of the province, but appears to be entertained, to some 
extent at least, in quarters where we would naturally 
have looked for the existence of very different senti- 
ments. It becomes necessary, therefore, that no 
misapprehension should exist on the part of any 
one, friend or opponent, as to my opinions, either on 
the question itself, or on the effect which a difference 
respecting it must necessarily produce on the political 
relations between me and those of my friends (if any 
there be) who take a different view of the subject. 
And I take the liberty of addressing this letter to you, 
as well from the political connection which has so long 
subsisted between us, as from the circumstance of an 
election about to take place for the Riding in which 
you reside. At that election, whether you may become 
a candidate or not, ... it is due to my friends that no 
room should be left to suppose me undetermined upon, 
or indifferent to, this question. It is but right that 
they should be made aware that I have not changed 

* October 4, 1849. 

144 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

my opinion in relation to it, but that I retain unaltered 
my attachment to the connection with the motherland, 
that I believe now, as I did when last I addressed my 
constituents from the hustings, that the continuance 
of that connection may be made productive of material 
good to both the colony and the parent state. 

" It is equally due to my friends that they should, 
in like manner, be made aware that upon this ques- 
tion there remains, in my opinion, no room for com- 
promise. It is one of altogether too vital a character 
for that. All should know, therefore, that I can look 
upon those only who are for the continuance of that 
connection as political friends — those who are against 
it as political opponents. 

" The mother country has now for years been leaving 
to us powers of self-government, more ample than ever 
we have asked, and it does appear a most impious 
return to select such a time for asking for a separation. 
... I can, at all events, be no party to such proceed- 
ing, and must not suffer it to be supposed that I have 
a moment's doubt respecting it. Let the declaration 
which I have above made lead to what it may, as 
respects the relative political position of either myself 
or others, I feel that I am in the path of duty in making 
it. I abide the consequences." 

Scarcely had the manifesto made its appearance, 
before other members of the Government took steps 
to assist the Attorney-General in checking the spreading 
contagion of unrest. The Hon. Malcolm Cameron sent 
a letter to The Montreal Witness protesting against its 
attitude on the question of annexation, and charac- 
terizing the movement as the conspiracy of a set of 
disappointed men to dismember the empire.* Thanks 
to his initiative, a formal protest was drawn up, a few 
days later, and signed by all the ministers of the Crown 
then in Montreal, and by all the French Liberal 

1 The Globe t October 13, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 145 

members of the city and vicinity. The protest ran 
as follows : 

" We, the undersigned members of the Provincial 
Legislature, residing in the city of Montreal and its 
vicinity, have read with astonishment and regret a 
certain address to the people of Canada, recently pub- 
lished by divers persons, with the avowed intention 
of exciting, in the midst of our population, a move- 
ment in favour of the separation of this province from 
Great Britain, and of its annexation to the United 
States of America. Sincerely attached to the insti- 
tutions which the mother country has acknowledged, 
and convinced that those institutions suffice, through 
a system of wise and judicious legislation, to secure 
prompt and efficient remedies for all the evils which 
the province can complain of, we consider ourselves 
urgently bound to protest publicly and solemnly against 
the opinions enunciated in that document, 

" We deem it our duty at the same time, and without 
awaiting the concurrence of the other members of the 
Legislature — upon the approval of whom, with few 
exceptions, we may, however, confidently rely — to 
appeal to the wisdom, the love of order, and the honour 
of the inhabitants of this country, and to call upon 
them to oppose, by every means in their power, an 
agitation tending to subvert a constitution which, after 
having been long and earnestly sought for, was received 
with feelings of deep gratitude towards the metropolitan 
Government ; an agitation, moreover, which can result 
in nothing beyond the continuation of the scenes from 
which this city has already so severely suffered, the 
disturbance of social order, and a renewal of the 
troubles and disasters which we have had to deplore 
in time past," 

To the protest were appended the names of twenty 
members of the Legislative Council and Assembly,^ 

1 Messrs. Leslie, Bourett, Morin, Viger, Cameron, Price, Drum- 
mond, Dumas, Cartier, Davignon, Lacoste, Nelson, Jobin, Massue, 
Methot, Chabot, Lemieux, Cauchon, etc, 


146 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

including the following members of the Government : 
Messrs. Leslie, Price, Tache, Caron, Cameron, and 
Drmnmond. Of the signers, all but Price and Cameron 
hailed from Lower Canada, and almost all were of 
French extraction. The document was, in fact, a 
joint declaration of the Government and the French 
Liberal members, in repudiation of the annexation 
movement. Shortly after, two other French members 
signed a similar protest, as officers of militia. ^ 

In times of bitter racial and political feeling, when 
the loyalty of the French-Canadians is sometimes 
called in question, this fact should not be forgotten, 
that the first protest against the annexation manifesto 
was made by the French Reformers, not by the EngUsh- 
speaking Conservatives. This circumstance is rendered 
all the more interesting by the fact that several of the 
signers, such as Morin, Cartier, and Nelson, had taken 
part in the revolt of 1837, After the grant of respon- 
sible government, these men rallied to the support of 
the English connection, and by their prompt action 
checked the spread of annexation sentiment among 
their compatriots. 

The decisive action of the French Reform members 
aroused the severest criticism of the Papineau organs, 
which accused them of supporting the British connec- 
tion from purely mercenary motives. Le Canadien 
Independent recited at length the salaries of the Execu- 
tive Officers of the Crown, and the special remuneration 
of certain other members of the Legislature who had 
signed the counter manifesto. Chabot, it declared, 
was the advocate of the Jesuits, and as such the 
humble servant of the Crown. L'Avenir denounced 
the perfidy of the former patriotic leaders of 1837, 
Messrs. Morin, Leslie, and Nelson, who for the sake 
of personal preferment had sacrificed their political 
principles, and had gone over to the enemy. Cartier 
was accused of having changed front, since, for some 
years past, he had been an avowed advocate of annexa- 

^ Messrs. Ducbesnay and Laurin. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 147 

tion, and had only recently pronounced himself as still 
in favour of it.^ However this may be, there can be 
little doubt but that at the time of signing the protest 
Cartier was a loyal supporter of the British connection. 
He had recovered his faith in the future of the colony, 
and he entertained a lively hope of its economic de- 
velopment when its resources should have been opened 
up by an improved system of communication.^ 

The intense interest of the Government in the 
political situation in Upper Canada was clearly shown 
in a letter of the Hon, Francis Hincks to Mr, C, Crosby, 
a leading Reformer of Markham, The question of 
annexation was, in the judgment of the hon, minister, 
primarily a commercial question. Setting aside those 
subjects with which the local Parliament could satis- 
factorily deal, the single cause of discontent sprang, 
he declared, from the restriction on trade across the 
American border. Public opinion was agreed that 
" the inconsiderate cry for annexation would be at 
once stifled by the establishment of reciprocal free trade 
with the United States." 

There was, however, he continued, a general opinion 
that the American Government would not make fiscal 
concessions to Canada. One thing was certain, the 
annexation movement was not calculated to assist the 
local government in its efforts to obtain reciprocity. 
If the Annexationists would drop their ill-advised 
agitation, he held out the hope that the Imperial 
Government, which at last was fully alive to the seri- 
ousness of the Canadian situation, would be able to 
secure from the United States the free admission of 
Canadian products into the American market. 

The Montreal manifesto, he declared, was based upon 
a misconception of the state of English public opinion. 
" The generous sentiments expressed by the British 
statesmen to the effect that they had no desire to 
retain the colonies against the wish of their inhabi- 

1 L'Avenir, October i8, 1849. 

3 De Celles, Life of Cartigr, p. 45. 

148 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

tants, have been construed into indifference as to the 
permanency of the connection, an indifference which 
is most assuredly not felt by any numerous party. 
Not only are the leading statesmen of the political 
parties . , . most favourable to the subsisting con- 
nection, but the warmest advocates of Colonial Reform, 
such as Hume, Molesworth, and Roebuck, would view 
annexation with deep regret." It would be especially 
mortifying to the Liberals in England, as well as in 
the colonies, if the recent concession of self-government 
should lead to the severance of the imperial tie, instead 
of the strengthening of the connection as had been 
anticipated. He appealed to the Reformers to rally 
to the support of the Government in the struggle which 
was apparently about to take place between the 
loyalists and the Annexationists in the Third Riding. 
Every member of the Ministry, he concluded, enter- 
tained the views of Baldwin, as set forth in the letter 
to Perry, and would carry them out if backed up by 
the party. But if their former supporters should fail 
them, the Government had a primary duty to their 
sovereign and country " to sustain any administration 
favourable to the British connection which could com- 
mand a larger share of public opinion than themselves."' 
The Government was using every effort, both of a 
personal and partisan character, to stop the spread of 
annexation views within the Reform Party. Baldwin 
officially read all the Annexationists out of the party, 
Cameron and his associates denounced the movement 
in unsparing terms, and Hincks declared in effect that 
the Ministry placed their allegiance to the Crown before 
their party, and were prepared, if necessary, to support 
a loyal Tory Government, rather than to retain office 
by the grace of annexationist Reformers. The minis- 
ters were undoubtedly alarmed at the growing strength 
of the Clear Grit Party, and at the tolerant, if not 
sympathetic, attitude towards annexation of some of 
the papers, and many of the supporters of that faction 
* October 22, 1849. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 149 

of the party. But they did not lose courage, nor 
hesitate for a moment as to the proper poUcy to pursue 
under the circumstances. They boldly attempted to 
stifle the spirit of sedition at the outset. To this end 
they cleverly represented the annexation movement 
in the light of an act of treason to the party and to 
the Crown, and adroitly appealed to the fealty of their 
supporters, to the constitutional principles of the party, 
and to the old chivalric affection of the colonists for 
the motherland, in the hope of stemming the rising 
tide of republicanism which was threatening to carry 
away so many of their former supporters. The appeal 
was to a large extent successful. The timely inter- 
vention of the Ministry rallied the bulk of the party 
around the British standard, and enabled the Govern- 
ment to direct its full strength against the Annexation- 
ists in another quarter. 

Meantime, the loyalists of Montreal had taken steps 
to counteract the impression that the city had wholly 
gone over to the Annexationists. Thanks to the ener- 
getic initiative of Mr. John Young, a prominent 
Reformer President of the Free Trade League, and busi- 
ness partner of Benjamin Holmes, a counter declaration 
of loyalty was prepared and circulated throughout the 
city. Prominent members of the League ^ joined hands 
with leading Reformers to make the protest a success. 
The address ran as follows : 

" We, the undersigned inhabitants of the citj^ of 
Montreal, owing and acknowledging allegiance to Her 
Majesty the Queen, having read a certain address to 
the people of Canada, in which separation from the 
British connection and a union with the United States 
of America are recommended as presenting the only 
practicable remedy for the evils which affect this pro- 
vince, do hereby solemnly and deliberately record our 
dissent from the precipitate and ill-advised conclusions 

* Messrs. Mack, Montgomerie, Smith, Isaacson, officers of the 
League, signed the protest. 

150 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

which the authors and signers of that address have 
arrived at. 

" We believe that there is nothing in the depressed 
condition of Canada which may not be promptly and 
effectually remedied by the adoption of a well-considered 
system of legislation, without having to resort to a 
measure revolting to our feelings, revolutionary in 
character, and tending to the dismemberment of the 
British Empire. These views we are anxious to main- 
tain by all constitutional means. Anxiously alive to 
the importance of promoting the material interests of 
this our native and adopted country, and of preserving 
imanimity and good-will amongst all classes of our 
fellow citizens, we cannot but express an earnest hope 
that means may be devised without delay to restore 
prosperity to this province, cement the ties which have 
so long existed with the mother country, and allay all 
agitation which may otherwise prove formidable." 

To this protest over a thousand names were sub- 
scribed, notwithstanding the fact that no regular 
canvass of the city was attempted. The counter decla- 
ration represented, according to The Transcript, but a 
feeble reflex of Montreal feeling upon the question, since 
in matters of this kind it was exceedingly difficult to 
put aside their personal opinions. In this case, a large 
number of gentlemen had refused to sign the declara- 
tion, because they were of the opinion that no protest 
was necessary, and that the good common sense of 
the public, without outside efforts, would put down 
the agitation of the Annexationists. A still larger 
number of citizens objected on political grounds, " from 
a fear lest the movement might weaken the Conserva- 
tive Party, and strengthen that of their opponents." 
On the other hand, the annexation press threw out 
the insinuation, which was subsequently repeated by 
Mr. Holmes in the Assembly, that every stipendiary 
and office-holder in the city was compelled to sign the 
protest on penalty of dismissal ; and it was further 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 151 

alleged that there were many false names upon the 

The truth of the first of these accusations was 
challenged by The Pilot, which declared in rebuttal 
that much less pressure was exercised in securing sig- 
natures in the case of the counter, than in that of the 
original manifesto. However this may be, it must be 
admitted that the names of Government officials occu- 
pied an important place on the list, and that, in point 
of social and commercial standing in the community, 
the adherents of the counter declaration made a much 
less pretentious appearance than the formidable array 
of the original manifesto. The larger commercial in- 
terests of the city were undoubtedly in favour of 
annexation. Amongst the mass of the English popu- 
lation opinion was very evenly divided. On the other 
hand, the overwhelming majority of the French in- 
habitants were unresponsive and unsympathetic ; their 
passive attitude constituted the strongest barrier 
against the spread of annexation tenets. 

Encouraged by the many evidences of loyalty 
throughout the province, the Ministry proceeded to 
carry the war into the camp of the enemy. The Gov- 
ernment had already been challenged by a section of 
the Tory press to dismiss from the public service any 
or all of its supporters who had signed the annexation 
manifesto.* Although the task was an exceedingly 
unpleasant one, and likely to react disadvantageously 
upon the Government, the Ministry did not hesitate 
to do its duty. No other course, in fact, was open 
to it. The question presented to the Government was 
not one of party expediency, but of public honour 
and of true allegiance. No matter how liberal the 
principles of the Government might be, it could not 
permit its officials to forswear their allegiance at will, 
without proclaiming thereby its own powerlessness and 
dissolution. The Government, from its very character 
as the ruling organ of the State, was not only entitled 

* The Montreal Gazette, October 31, 1849. 

152 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

to demand obedience from its citizens, but was 
compelled to assert and maintain its authority, 
even by arbitrary means, against its recalcitrant 

A circular letter was accordingly addressed by 
Colonel Leslie, the Provincial Secretary, to the magis- 
trates. Queen's Counsels, militia officers, and other 
servants of the Crown, whose signatures were appended 
to the manifesto, " with a view of ascertaining whether 
their names had been attached to it with their consent," 
and, if so, demanding an explanation of their conduct.^ 
To this communication an interesting variety of re- 
sponses was forthcoming. Some of the recipients dis- 
avowed their signatures ; a few of the Annexationists 
courteously acknowledged their offence, and in some 
cases attempted to justify their action ; but several, 
on the other hand, refused to afford the desired in- 
formation, and even denied the right of the Government 
to question them in regard to the matter.^ 

With striking inconsistency. The Gazette, which had 
taunted the Ministry with weakness in dealing with 
the Annexationists, now faced about, and denounced 
the Government for its inquisitorial proceedings. The 
Queen, it declared, would lose through this persecution 
the services of many brave and loyal men whose places 
would be vacated in order to make way for traitors. 
The Bar, it ventured to assert, would resist this dan- 
gerous attack upon its independence. The recipients 
of the circular were advised to consult together, " to 
meet so unprincipled and despotic an invasion of public 
liberty and the right of free discussion." 

The Ministry was in no way deceived or intimidated 
by the bluffs and threats of the opposition, but calmly 
proceeded to deal with the offenders. At a meeting 

* Despatch of Lord Elgin to Earl Grey, December 3, 1849. 

3 Prominent among the recalcitrants was Mr. Johnston, Q.C., 
who denied at first the power of the Executive to interrogate him, 
since he held no office of profit under the Crown, and was not a 
servant of the State. Later, he sought to justify his refusal to 
reply on the ground of his high regard for the privileges of the Bar. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 153 

of the Executive Council, on December i, it was 
resolved that those officials who had admitted being 
parties to the annexation address, and those who had 
failed to give a direct answer to the Government's 
inquiry, should be dismissed from the service, and 
that the guilty Queen's Counsels should be deprived 
of their gowns. The attitude of the Government was 
clearly set forth in a minute of the Executive Council, 
a copy of which was addressed by the Provincial 
Secretary to the dismissed officials,^ 

" There can be no doubt in the opinion of the Com- 
mittee of Council that His Excellency must feel bound 
by a sense of duty, as well to his sovereign and the 
empire at large, as to the people of Canada themselves, 
not only to maintain the connection of the province 
with the parent state by the fullest exercise of all the 
prerogatives conferred upon him by Her Majesty, but 
to discourage by all the means constitutional within 
its control every attempt calculated to impair it. In 
the performance of this duty there can be no desire 
to question any one upon mere abstract speculations 
regarding different forms of government. It is for 
parties to satisfy themselves to what extent they may 
proceed with such speculations, without the risk of 
compromising themselves by a breach of the laws of 
the land. When, however, an individual arrives at 
the deliberate conclusion, that what he deems the 
evils under which his country labours require not 
merely a reformation of the Constitution, but its entire 
overthrow, and when such person entertains this 
opinion not as a mere speculative theory, possibly to 
be realized in some remote and undefined future, but 
actually takes measures directly intended to bring 
about such revolutionary change, it appears to your 
committee perfectly obvious that, apart from all con- 
siderations or inquiry as to consequences of a still 
more serious character, such party should not be 
permitted to remain in the anomalous and invidious- 

* December 5, 1849. 

154 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

position of holding a commission during the pleasure 
of a sovereign power which he desires to subvert." 

The Government was no respecter of persons : Re- 
formers and Tories, magistrates, officers and civilians, 
men of high and low degree alike, felt its displeasure.' 
Conspicuous in the list of the dismissed Justices of 
the Peace were Jacob De Witt, Benjamin Holmes, and 
the Hon. Robert Jones ; John Molson was dropped 
from the Wardens of Trinity House, and Messrs, 
Johnston and Rose lost their status as Queen's Coun- 
sellors. The victims were found in all parts of the 
province, but the Montreal district and the Eastern 
Townships especially suffered from the expurgatory 

The decisive action of the Ministry aroused the 
vindictive ire of the Annexationists and their friends. 
The dismissed officials very cleverly endeavoured to 
gain the sympathy of the public by posing as the 
victims of an arbitrary Government, and by standing 
forth as the champions of liberty of speech. In reply 
to his notification of dismissal, Mr. Holmes endeavoured 
to assume the patriotic role of a John Hampden. He 
claimed that he had acted for the advantage of the 
province in promoting the manifesto, the representa- 
tions of which he believed to be true, and the object of 
which was not looked upon as seditious by the English 
Government. In conclusion, he expressed the deepest 
regret " to find that a full and free discussion of political 
questions, even though they might involve the ultimate 
severance of this colony from the parent state, was 
denied, and to be suppressed and punished by the 
Provincial Executive, while in England, even in the 
Imperial Parliament, the self-same questions were 
freely mooted." 

In an elaborate argument, Mr. Rose also endeavoured 

» The Kingston Whig alleged that, while the Government was 
dismissing annexationist magistrates in Lower Canada, it was 
appointing Annexationists to the Government service in the Kingston 
district. The Examiner also charged that Mr. Wilson, of The 
Independent, was permitted to retain his commission in the militia. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 155 

to clear himself and his friends from the charge of 
treason. The objects of the association, he contended, 
were perfectly peaceful and constitutional. The An- 
nexationists did not aim at a revolution, nor did they 
intend to resort to illegal practices to attain their 
ends ; they merely asserted the constitutional right 
of every British subject to seek to bring about by 
public discussion a change in the political organization 
of the country, by and with the consent of the English 
Government and people. The annexation journals, 
as was to be expected, raised a hue and cry against the 
" tyrannical conduct " of the Ministry, the result of 
which, they prophesied, would yet prove disastrous to 
the British connection. The action of the Government, 
declared L'Echo des Campagnes, would not suppress 
the annexation movement, but only serve to give a 
more personal character to the struggle, and separate 
more widely the partisans and the opponents of English 
supremacy in the province. 

The Tory and Clear Grit journals were divided upon 
the question. Some of the Tory papers, such as The 
Quebec Mercury and The Toronto Colonist, condemned 
the dismissal of worthy officials who had proved their 
loyalty to the Crown during the revolt of 1837. A 
few of the Clear Grit organs joined in the clamour 
against the policy of the Government. The dismissals, 
according to The Examiner, were a violation of con- 
stitutional principles, and a bad piece of political 
tactics ; such a policy would not make converts of 
the Annexationists, nor convince the public of the 
impropriety of a political union with their neighbours ; 
neither the loyalty nor the honesty of the servants of 
the Crown would be promoted by a policy of coercion.* 
The chief result of this mistaken policy would be, 
The^Mirror added, to arouse a general sense of injustice, 
and to harden the hearts of the Annexationists. 

On the other hand, the leading Reform papers 
heartily approved of the conduct of the Ministry, 

* The Examiner, November 14, 1849. 

156 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

though a few of the more timid journals questioned 
the wisdom of the policy of the Government, on grounds 
of political expediency. The Pilot severely arraigned 
the contention of Mr. Rose that annexation could be 
peaceably obtained with the free consent of England. 
However peaceful, it concluded, the professions of the 
Annexationists might be, they could only attain their 
object by force — in other words, by treason. Even 
among the Clear Grit sections of the party but little 
S3niipathy was felt for the ex-ofiicials. The feelings 
of the Upper Canada Reformers were voiced at a 
public meeting at Pickering of the Radical wing of the 
party, at which a resolution was adopted expressing 
approval of the dismissal of avowed republican office- 

This lack of sympathy was doubtless due in part to 
the fact that the great majority of the dismissed 
officials were Tories in politics. At the same time it 
is but fair to add that neither the Ministry in making 
the dismissals, nor their adherents in supporting the 
same, were primarily influenced by vindictive motives, 
or by mere partisan considerations. It was not a case 
of the application of the spoils system under the most 
favourable circumstances. Even The Globe, which 
could scarcely be accused of undue consideration for 
Tory officials, expressed the hope that many of the 
offenders would recant their errors, and be restored 
to their former posts on showing works meet for 

The vigorous action of the Ministry had a salutary 
influence upon both the civil and military services. 
The great body of the servants of the Crown were 
undoubtedly warmly attached to the British connec- 
tion. A few were admittedly wavering in their 
allegiance ; but, however sentimentally inclined they 
might be towards annexation, the majority of them 
were not prepared to play the part of martyrs. The 
Government made it more profitable for them to be 

' The Examiner, April lo, 1850. 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 157 

loyal, than to profess sentiments of disloyalty, and 
they were not beyond the reach of worldly wisdom. 
Henceforth, the Executive had very little occasion to 
exercise its disciplinary authority over its officials on 
account of their seditious conduct. 

The tactics of the leaders of the Conservative Party 
were strikingly different from those of the Ministry. 
Although the great majority of the most influential 
members of the party, as MacNab, Macdonald,^ Sher- 
wood, Allan, Moffatt, Gugy, and Badgley, were 
personally opposed to annexation, but few of them 
ventured to take any active part in opposing the 
movement. For the time being, they surrendered 
their position as political leaders, and became passive 
spectators of the struggle between the Government 
and the Annexationists. They did not even endeavour 
to suppress, like the Liberal Ministers, the annexation 
propaganda within the party ranks. Their party was 
thoroughly disorganized ; in the Montreal district 
some of the most prominent members had gone over 
to the Annexationists, and many others in different 
parts of the province were wavering in their political 
allegiance. Under these circumstances, the Conserva- 
tive leaders thought it best to await developments, 
and to adopt the safe, if not highly honourable, role 
of political opportunists, in the hope of reaping some 
advantage from the internecine struggle of their 

The course of political events had strained the 
loyalty of the Orangemen. They had been in the 
forefront of the battle against the Rebellion Losses 
Bill. No section of the Tory Party had been so 

^ (Sir) John A. Macdonald refused to sign the manifesto, although 
urged to do so. Many years after, he told his biographer, Mr. Pope, 
that he had " advocated the formation of the British American 
League as a much more sensible procedure," and that, under the 
influence of the League, the annexation sentiment had disappeared 
(Pope, Life of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. ii. p. 71). He had evi- 
dently forgotten that the League Convention was held in Kingston 
more than two months before the manifesto appeared. 

158 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

vigorous in its denunciation of Lord Elgin and the 
policy of the English Government as they ; at times 
the language of some of their leaders was defiant of 
the authority of the Government, if not almost seditious 
in character. But unlike many of their fellow partisans 
they did not allow the bitterness of defeat to under- 
mine their loyalty to the Crown. When all around 
them wavered, they rallied staunchly to the British 
flag. At the critical moment of the struggle, the 
Grand Master of the Order issued an appeal to the 
brethren to remember the immemorial loyalty of 
the Order, and their bounden obligation to maintain 
the connection between the colonies and Great Britain.' 
" Therefore, my brethren . . . our course is clear and 
appointed. No matter what may be the clamours of 
the ignorant, or the projects of the wrong-minded, 
and still less the craft of the vicious, this outburst of 
democratic turbulence must be resisted, and all revo- 
lutionary projects, whether made under professions of 
loyalty or otherwise, we are bound by our solemn 
obligations to oppose." 

The decisive conduct of the Grand Master offset to 
a large extent the inaction of the Tory leaders. When 
the latter failed to lead, the rank and file of the Orange- 
men were able to look to their own officers for direction 
in the crisis. The response to the appeal of the Grand 
Master was quick and decisive. The London Orange- 
men presented an address bearing over 900 signatures, 
deploring the payment of rebels, but stoutly affirming 
their unswerving devotion to the Crown,' The loyal 
attitude of the Orangemen did much to check the 
spread of annexation sentiment among the Tories of 
Upper Canada, 

The Governor-General had been anxiously watching 
the dangerous course of events in Montreal, Although 
fearful of the outcome, he did not for a moment relax 
his efforts to maintain inviolable the connection 

^ October 19, 1849, 

• London Times (C.W,), November 23, 1849, 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 159 

between the colony and the mother country. " To 
render annexation by violence impossible, and by any 
other means as impossible as may be," was, he de- 
clared, " the polar star " of his policy. In a striking 
despatch to the Colonial Secretary soon after the 
appearance of the manifesto, he took particular pains 
to point out the serious responsibility of the English 
Government for the future of Canada. 

" Very much, as respects the results of this annexa- 
tion movement, depends upon what you do at home. 
I cannot say what the effect may be, if the British 
Government and press are lukewarm on the subject. 
The Annexationists will take heart, but, in a tenfold 
greater degree, the friends of the connection will be 
discouraged. If it be admitted that separation must 
take place sooner or later, the argument in favour of a 
present move seems to me almost irresistible. I am 
prepared to contend that with responsible government, 
fairly worked out with free trade, there is no reason 
why the colonial relation should not be indefinitely 
maintained. But look at my present difficulty, which 
may be increased beyond calculation, if indiscreet 
expressions be made use of during the present crisis. 
The English Government thought it necessary, in order 
to give moral support to its representative in Ireland, 
to assert in the most solemn manner that the Crown 
never would consent to the severance of the union. . . . 
But, when I protest against Canadian projects for 
dismembering the empire, I am always told the most 
eminent statesmen in England have over and over 
again told us that whenever we chose we might 
separate. Why then blame us for discussing the 
subject ? " * 

A part of the alarming success of the manifesto was 
undoubtedly due to the chagrin of the people of 
Montreal at the proposed removal of the capital, which 
touched their civic pride, and, at the same time, 
threatened still further to affect the social and political 

* November i6, 1849 ; Letters and Journals 0/ Lord Elgin, p. 112. 

160 The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 

prestige, and the commercial importance of the city. 
The circumstances of the time favoured at first the 
poUcy of the Annexationists. Their vigorous propa- 
ganda took the loyahsts by surprise, and for a time 
appeared to sweep everything out of the way. But the 
latter soon rallied, and presented a strong united front 
to their opponents. Instead of winning an easy 
victory, as they had anticipated, the Annexationists 
found it necessary to undertake what promised to be a 
long and strenuous campaign to overcome the senti- 
mental scruples of the great body of loyalists. The 
prospects were by no means as encouraging after the 
Government came out so decisively against them. 
Moreover, the reports which came in from the distant 
parts of the province, especially Upper Canada, clearly 
showed that both the public and the press were gener- 
ally unfavourable to annexation. 

Almost at the outset of the struggle the Annexa- 
tionists found themselves fighting against heavy odds. 
Scarcely a month had elapsed since the issuance of the 
manifesto before some of the signers of that document 
realized their mistake, and began to withdraw quietly 
from the association. An excellent harvest in Upper 
Canada gave a fillip to the trade of the province. 
Business conditions were, according to The Transcript, 
better than they had been for some time past ; the 
receipts from customs and canal dues were almost 
50 per cent, above those of the previous year. The 
worst of the crisis was apparently over, and the com- 
mercial community again took heart. With the slow 
but steady improvement in trade, evidences of a 
waning interest in annexation became manifest. The 
meetings of the local association were but thinly 
attended, in spite of the efforts of the officers to main- 
tain an active organization. The business instincts of 
the public again asserted themselves, and this time to 
the disadvantage of the Annexationists. 

The situation was admirably described by the 
Montreal correspondent of The London Times. " I 

The Manifesto and Counter Manifestos 161 

am more confident every day that the late move 
(annexation) is a bubble which will have burst before 
next summer, to be blown up again and again at 
recurring periods of distress. Nine-tenths at least of 
the Annexationists are so reluctantly. They believe 
that incorporation with the United States will act in 
a magical manner on the value of property and labour 
in Canada, and on commerce ; that it will, in short, 
restore their own dilapidated fortunes. Show them a 
revival of prosperity without it, and annexation will 
be laid on the shelf until the next rainy day. 

" The remaining tenth is composed of a few Montreal 
merchants who have long been Yankees in heart, and 
have a natural inclination for democratic institutions, 
and manufacturers who want admission to the Ameri- 
can market. Among the former are some of the richest 
men in Canada, who have been making enormous 
profits in their several lines of business, and who, 
disgusted at the falling off of their receipts, throw the 
blame on the British connection, and erroneously 
believe that annexation would restore them their 
beloved gains. 

" I believe the prospects of Canada were never as 
good as they are at this moment. During the autumn, 
the exports to the United States have been double what 
they ever were before in the most prosperous year 
during an equal period, consisting principally of flour, 
grain, peas for the manufacture of Yankee coffee (this 
is now a large business), horses, and a large quantity 
of timber. Next spring, the St. Lawrence will bristle 
with masts from all parts of the globe. The revenue 
derived from the canals will not only pay the interest 
of the debt incurred for their construction, but will 
yield a considerable surplus." ^ 

1 The Times, December 20, 1849. 




Policy of the Association — The Second Manifesto — Criticism of the 
Manifesto — Reception of Manifesto in Quebec — Annexation 
address and demonstration — Protest of loyaUsts — Pastoral 
letter of Bishop Mountain — Electoral struggle in city — Victory 
of the Ministerialists — Disappointment of the Annexationists 
— Sentiment in the Three Rivers District — Opinion in the 
Eastern Townships — Declaration of Mr. Gait — Campaign of 
the Annexationists — Organization of associations — Declaration 
of McConnell, M.P. — Annexation rallies in Rouville, Missisquoi, 
and Huntingdon — Opposition of the loyalists — Letter of Mr. 
Savageau, M.P. 

AT this critical juncture, leadership in the Annexa- 
tion Party was sadly lacking. The leaders of 
the movement were anxious to avoid even the 
appearance of treasonable hostility to the 
Crown . Many of the members of the party belonged ' ' to 
that new school who think an appeal to arms at 
any time, not only undesirable, but positively wrong." 
There was the greater reason for caution in this case, 
since, in the opinion of some of the inner councillors, 
" the game " of the Government was to drive the 
advocates of independence and annexation " into some 
overt act of treason or sedition, if not into open re- 
bellion, so that they may bring into action the whole 
apparatus of civil law and military power." If, said 
the Montreal correspondent of The New York Post, 
" the men who have put themselves at the head of the 
annexation or independence movement have a fault, 
it is that of over-circumspection ; they have been, and 
will be, cautious to keep their agitation within con- 
stitutional limits, or, as it has been facetiously termed. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 163 

* on the shady side of the law ' ; they will not expose 
themselves to the bright flashes of General Rowand's 
cannon, nor to the brighter flashes of Judge Draper's 
charges to juries. Nor will the journalists of the 
party commit themselves ; they are conducted by men 
who know quite well what they are doing, and how far 
they can go with propriety ; they do not work on their 
fellow countrymen by appealing to their passions, in 
the revolutionary slang of the term, but by appealing 
to their interests, by placing facts before them, and 
leaving them to draw their own conclusions." ' 

But the purely polemical character of the policy of 
the association seriously detracted from the effective- 
ness of its campaign. After the issue of the manifesto, 
the Montreal Association had nothing to present in the 
way of a definite scheme of separation ; they could 
only repeat with parrot-like persistence the cry for 
annexation. The very haste and zeal with which they 
had pressed for pledges to the manifesto produced a 
reaction. Worst of all, the funds of the association 
were running low. In half-coaxing, half-despairing 
tones. The Courier pleaded for the sinews of war with 
which to carry on the campaign of education throughout 
the province. They must follow, it contended, the 
example of the English Free Trade Union, by sub- 
scribing funds, and despatching speakers all over the 
colony. But the response to this appeal was not very 
encouraging. " It would appear," said The British 
American, " that the Annexation Party is in a sickly 
condition, and if some good Samaritan does not put 
up the cash, it will die a natural death before six 
months." * 

In the hope of reviving public interest in the ques- 
tion, and with a view to rebutting the arguments of 
their critics, the executive of the association resolved 
to issue a second address to the people of Canada. 
The language of the address, like that of the original 

^ New York Post, February 16, 1850. 

• Quoted from The Globe, December 6, 1849. 

164 The Movement in Lower Canada 

manifesto, was calm and dignified, an appeal to the 
intelligent self-interest of the public, rather than to 
the political passion or prejudice of the people. The 
address, which was signed by John Redpath and the 
joint secretaries of the association, ran as follows : 

Address of the Montreal Annexation 
Association to the People of Canada 

Fellow Colonists, 

When those whom we have the honour to 
represent undertook to recommend to you, in the 
address to the people of Canada, published in October 
last, the consideration of the peaceable separation of 
this province from Great Britain, and its annexation 
to the United States, they were fully aware of the 
responsibility which they assumed, and were, therefore, 
anxious to adopt only such measures as would be 
perfectly safe for those whose co-operation they sought 
to enlist. They were ready to suffer whatever odium 
might for a time be cast on the movers in such a pro- 
ject ; but they were resolved to do nothing which 
would cause civil commotion, or personal calamity. 
Prepared to maintain the right of every people to 
choose that government which they believe most cal- 
culated to promote their own happiness and prosperity, 
they would not assent to any proposition which, 
followed out, might bring those who thought with 
them into armed conflict with those who differed from 
them. Conscious of obeying no other motives than 
those springing from patriotism, disinterested and 
sincere, it was yet not without some hesitation that 
they committed themselves to a course which, although 
just and lawful, might divide them from many of their 
fellow subjects, and from associations long endeared 
to them. 

The vast interest at stake — the welfare of themselves, 
their fellow countrymen, and their posterity — urged 
them to proceed ; and the favourable reception ac- 

The Movement in Lower Canada 165 

corded to the expression of their opinion has shown 
that they did not make a false estimate of the circum- 
stances by which they were surrounded, nor of the 
good sense, justice, and HberaHty of the people of 
Great Britain. If we refer for a moment to the con- 
demnation passed on the address by certain public 
writers of this province (who, we are convinced, do not 
express the sentiments of the great body of the people), 
we do so in no spirit of triumph. But it is of import- 
ance for the advancement of the change we seek, to 
keep steadily before the public of Canada the fact, 
that this condemnation has not been confirmed by 
those in whose behalf it was professedly pronounced. 
Men in this colony who arrogated the right of speaking 
for the Government and people of Great Britain de- 
clared that we asked an impossibility, something to 
which Great Britain would never consent, which she 
would put down at all costs ; even at that of bloodshed. 
They even urged the infliction of punishment — such 
as arbitrary power is able to visit — on the guiltless 
expression of opinion, without waiting to learn if those 
in whose behalf they would persecute were really 
offended. . . . 

We now stand in a totally different position from 
that which was occupied by the signers of the original 
address. The most influential organs of public opinion 
in the mother country, as well as the understood organs 
of its government, have spoken with as much dis- 
tinctness as was possible, in reply to an unofficial 
demand. We now know with certainty that for which 
we had before only well-founded belief, that the people 
of Great Britain acknowledge the right of the inhabi- 
tants of this province to choose for themselves, and 
to establish the government which they deem best 
adapted to secure prosperity, and comfort the greater 
number. We here place a few of these declarations 
on record not as our title to rights which we did not 
possess before, but as valuable acknowledgments of 
their existence. 

166 The Movement in Lower Canada 

[From " The London Times," October 31) 

" There was a time when so singular a document 
as this would have exposed its authors to the penalties 
of high treason, and the colony in which it was broached 
to the calamities of civil war ; when every Englishman 
would have boiled with indignation at the presumption 
which complained of English dominion, and at the 
temerity which proposed to carry the presumption of 
language into action. But those days have passed 
away. We have been taught wisdom by experience ; 
and the most valuable, as well as the most costly, 
of our lessons has been taught by the barren issue 
of a precipitate conflict with a province, from which 
remonstrances proceeded to rebellion, and crowned 
rebellion with independence. . . . 

" We should not go to war for the sterile honour of 
retaining a reluctant colony in galling subjection ; we 
should not purchase an unwilling obedience by an 
outlay of treasure or of blood. If, indeed, with 
colonial dependence or independence there were in- 
dissolubly bound up metropolitan prosperity or decay ; 
if it were tolerably clear that the preservation of our 
colonial empire would ensure the preservation of 
metropolitan greatness, and that the latter would wane 
with the extinction of the former — then such sugges- 
tions as the Montreal address contains would find no 
place in the discussions, no sympathy in the feelings, 
of the people of England. They would one and all 
identify their own interests and prosperity with that 
which their forefathers were content to regard for and 
by itself, viz. the supremacy of English power. But 
the difference between them and their forefathers is 
that they will count and ponder on that more vulgar 
balance of profit and loss which was forgotten by 
the generation which hailed the commencement, and 
lamented the conclusion, of the great American War. 
Is the retention of Canada profitable ? will its loss be 
hurtful to England ? is the questions which Englishmen 

The Movement in Lower Canada 167 

of the present day will put to themselves, as the con- 
verse of this question is that which Canadians are 
already discussing on their side. . . . Meanwhile, ere 
this question be solved, let us congratulate ourselves 
on the reflection that the document which we have 
quoted proves that the political training which England 
gives to her colonists is one which need neither make 
them ashamed of her, nor her of them ; and that the 
future which awaits men thus trained can never be 
obscure or dishonourable." 

{From " The London Times," November 2) 

" We retract nothing that we have said on the tone, 
the temper, and the gravity of the document. By 
whomsoever it wasproposed, by whomsoeverconcocted, 
it reflects great credit on the skill, tact, and adroitness 
of its authors." 

{From " The London Weekly Despatch ") 

" This movement is a fine and cheering example, 
which is wonderfully well timed for the world's in- 
struction. Here is no bluster, and bravado ; no vitu- 
perations are uttered for past wrongs. No appeal is 
made to the god of battles, A violent separation is 
not proposed ; nor even one which shall be involuntary 
on the part of Great Britain, We are treated like 
rational beings by those who act like rational beings 
themselves. The actual tangible loss of the present 
connection is put in evidence, and, side by side with 
it, the actual tangible gain of the proposed measure, 
Canada exhibits her day book and ledger, and asks 
Lord John Russell to add up the column, and see the 
account for himself. Revolutions, separation, inde- 
pendence, annexation are words that conjure up the 
ideas of armed multitudes, troops in hot pursuit, 
desperate patriots dying for the Queen, and dying for 
the people, courts-martial and shootings, courts civil, 
and hangings, sea-fights and land-fights, with a bitter- 
ness engendered by the result, whatever \t be, that 

168 The Movement in Lower Canada 

alienates men's hearts for many a generation. . . . 
All these associations, inevitable in European out- 
breaks, are superseded by these straightforward Cana- 
dians. They show how the whole is settled by logic and 
arithmetic. The Duke of Wellington is not the least 
needed. A common accountant, or his clerk, is all 
the extraneous aid the Cabinet requires. Revolution 
is tamed and civilized. The Peace Congress may be 

[From " The Dundee Advertiser ") 

"In all likelihood Canada will cease to be a British 
possession, and that in a very short time. There has 
been a tendency to this separation for a considerable 
time back, and we do not think that the loss of Canada 
as a colony is to be regretted. On the contrary, we 
are convinced that both the colonists and the British 
will be benefited. The operation of free trade will 
relieve colonists from the obligation of protective 
duties, and they will have no interest in continuing 
to submit to the British rule, except in so far as they 
require British protection against their enemies. If 
Canada be annexed to the United States, she requires 
such protection no longer. She will be as independent 
of England as America is, and England will be as 
independent of her as she is of America. Canadian 
produce will find its way to our markets as readily 
as ever, and our manufactures to the Canadian 
markets. . . . 

" We shall simply be saved the trouble and expense 
of her government, and these have been of no trifling 
nature. We believe our colonies have cost this country 
an amount of money which it is impossible to estimate, 
in wars, in protective duties, and in expenses of 
government. We shall not regret to see more of them 
follow the example of Canada and be at the trouble 
and expense of maintaining themselves. There is no 
doubt but that the majority of the Canadian population 
have a right to judge for themselves, and to choose 

The Movement in Lower Canada 169 

what government they please. It is said that they 
are under obligations to us, and that they are, there- 
fore, not free so to choose. We say the sooner we cease 
from conferring obligations the better for us ; hitherto 
we have paid dearly enough for maintaining our con- 
nection with this colony. We shall now maintain all 
that is worth preserving — our commercial intercourse — 
without being taxed for it." 

{From " The Illustrated News ") 

" All these arguments are good as regards Canada ; 
and could the statesmen of this country believe that 
they were the sentiments of a large majority of the 
Canadian people, there can be little doubt but that 
they would agree to annexation, which, in such a 
case, would sooner or later be accomplished in spite 
of them. . . . 

" Sooner or later the independence of Canada is sure 
to be accomplished — as surely as the infants bom 
yesterday will grow into men — unless, indeed, we shall 
decree all our colonies to be integral parts of the 
kingdom of Great Britain, and allow them to send 
members to Parliament by the same right, and for 
the same reason, that we accord the franchise to 
London or to Manchester, to Middlesex or to Lancashire. 
It is possible that by such a course of proceeding, we 
might preserve some of our larger colonies for a time ; 
but even with such a participation in British power, 
we doubt whether we could retain Canada for two 
generations, or the great continent of Australia for 
three. Their independence is a question of time ; and 
it will be well for us at home if we have sufficient wisdom 
to know when the time has come, and sufficient virtue 
to reconcile ourselves peaceably to that which is in- 
evitable. To be deprived of Canada by force, and the 
connivance of the United States, would be humiliation 
indeed ; but to yield it up of our own free will would 
be but a sacrifice. We question, indeed, whether it 
would not be a gain. 

170 The Movement in Lower Canada 

" We seize the opportunity to observe that the 
magnanimous promptitude of the greater portion of 
the British public to admit our rights, and to appreciate 
the f eehngs, and respect the motives which actuated 
the framers of the original address, calls for the grateful 
acknowledgments of the people of Canada." 

The response of the people of the United States to 
the address has not been less satisfactory than that 
from Great Britain. Not only has the press generally 
declared in favour of receiving Canada into the Union 
if she seek that admission in a legitimate and peaceable 
manner ; but one of the states lying immediately on 
our own border, in the proceedings of its legislature, has 
pointedly alluded to the fact that the admission of 
Canada was contemplated by the original Articles of 
Confederation, and has by the following resolutions 
declared its desire to see that union effected. 

Proceedings of the Vermont Legislature, 1849 

" No. 29. Resolutions relating to the annexation of 
Canada to the United States. 

" Whereas by the original articles of Confederation 
adopted by the States of this Union, it was provided 
that Canada, acceding to this Confederation, and 
joining in the measures of these United States, shall 
be admitted into and entitled to all the advantages of 
this Union. 

" And whereas recent occurrences in the said province 
of Canada indicate a strong and growing desire on the 
part of the people thereof to avail themselves of the 
advantages of the foregoing offer, and to apply for 
admission among the sovereign States of this Union. 

" Therefore, resolved by the Senate and the 
House of Representatives, that, believing the ad- 
mission of Canada into this Union to be a measure 
intimately connected with the permanent pros- 
perity and glory of both countries, the Govern- 
ment of the State of Vermont is earnestly desirous 

The Movement in Lower Canada 171 

to see such reunion effected, without a violation, 
on the part of the United States, of the amicable 
relations existing with the British Government, or 
of the law of nations. 

" Resolved. — The peaceable annexation of 
Canada to the United States, with the consent of 
the British Government and of the people of 
Canada, and upon just and honourable terms, is 
an object in the highest degree desirable to the 
people of the United States. It would open a 
wide and fertile field to the enterprise and the 
industry of the American people ; it would extend 
the boundaries and increase the power of our 
country ; it would enlist a brave, industrious, and 
intelligent people under the flag of our nation ; it 
would spread wide the liberal principles of repub- 
lican government, and promote the preponderance 
of free institutions in this Union. We there- 
fore trust that our national Government, in the 
spirit of peace and of courtesy to both the British 
Government and the people of Canada, will adopt 
all proper and honourable means to secure the 
annexation of Canada to the United States." 

We were always persuaded that the people of Great 
Britain would consent to allow the separation which 
we desired, without which consent we would consider 
it neither practicable nor desirable, provided that 
separation were demanded by the majority of the 
people of Canada, but we know that many of our 
fellow colonists thought otherwise, and were therefore 
waiting for the judgment of the people of Great Britain, 
before committing themselves to our movement. We 
can now confidently call on such persons to dismiss all 
considerations of that nature, and to apply themselves 
only to the comparison of our present position with 
that which we must expect to occupy as a sovereign 
state of the North American Union. If the change be 
beneficial, nothing prevents its accomplishment. You 

172 The Movement in Lower Canada 

HAVE ONLY TO WILL IT. Motives for the change 
were set forth in considerable detail in the original 
address to the people of Canada. Nothing has since 
occurred to make that statement less true. After all 
the vain attempts to show that a few expressions were 
exaggerated, or to disprove some isolated assertions, 
that representation of our condition remains unshaken. 
The belief in the more rapid progress of the United 
States than of Canada does not, indeed, depend upon 
the evidences of any body of men who may address 
you to-day. The contrast is matter of daily, and, to 
us, of mortifying observation. It has been related 
and deplored by every British traveller who has com- 
pared the two borders. All well-informed men, even 
in England, have repeatedly heard it and read of it. 
It is past all honest doubt or denial. We here adduce 
the evidence of some witnesses — of men uninfluenced 
by prejudice, except what is in favour of British rule. 

{From "The London Daily News") 

" To all who are acquainted with Canada, or have 
read the publications respecting it which have appeared 
for a series of years back, this (the manifesto) is quite 
intelligible. The contrast between the United States 
side of the boundary line and the Canadian side has 
been the subject of frequent remark. A cool and 
dispassionate man of business, who visited Canada 
about a month ago, expresses himself on this subject in 
a letter that now lies before us, as follows : 

" I had often read of the contrast presented between 
the American and Canadian shores (of the St. Law- 
rence), but I could not have comprehended it in all 
its fulness unless I had witnessed it with my own eyes. 
On the one side all is life, activity, and prosperity ; on 
the other it is like the stillness of death. Montreal is 
a very fine city, more like an European town than 
anything I have yet seen on the American continent ; 
but there the universal complaint is that their trade 
is gone. The mercantile classes seemed to me to be 

The Movement in Lower Canada 173 

unanimous in favour of annexation ; and one cannot 
wonder at it, when you find a mere nominal line 
separating them from the prosperity of their neigh- 

{From Lord Durham's Report) 

" Under such circumstances there is little stimulus 
to industry or enterprise, and their effect is aggravated 
by the striking contrast presented by such of the 
United States as border upon this province, where all 
is activity and progress. ... I allude to the striking 
contrast which is presented by the American and 
British sides of the frontier line, in respect to every 
sign of productive industry, increasing wealth, and 
progressive civilization. By describing one side and 
reversing the picture, the other would also be described. 
On the American side all is activity and bustle. . . . 
On the British side of the line, with the exception of a 
few favoured spots where some approach to American 
prosperity is apparent, all seems waste and desolate. . . . 
Throughout the course of these pages, I have con- 
stantly had occasion to refer to this contrast. I have 
not hesitated to do so, though no man's just pride in 
his country and firm attachment to its institutions 
can be more deeply shocked by the mortifying ad- 
mission of inferiority. . . . The contrast which I have 
described is the theme of every traveller who visits 
these countries, and who observes on one side of the 
line the abundance, and, on the other, the scarcity of 
every sign of material prosperity which thriving 
agriculture and flourishing cities indicate, and of that 
civilization which schools and churches testify even to 
the outward senses." 

{From Dr. Dixon's Tour in America) 
" I found the country full of complaints and dis- 
satisfaction from one end to the other. The people 
everywhere, and of all shades of politics, spoke the 
same language. Their fortunes were wrecked, their 

174 The Movement in Lower Canada 

commerce destroyed ; their agriculture, the sinews of 
the colony, enfeebled, ruined. . . . 

" On the enactment of Lord Stanley's Bill respecting 
the admission of Canada flour into this country, a vast 
outlay in building mills took place, which mills had 
just begim to work profitably ; but the new policy 
effectually crushed this trade. I myself saw one of 
these mills, belonging to one of our friends — a new 
building of great size, and which must have cost many 
thousand pounds in its erection — standing still. This 
I understood was generally the case. ... In the 
present state of things, cast off by the mother country, 
and left to their own resources, with the United States 
just by their side, possessing vast political power and 
influence ; a growing credit and monetary resources ; 
a prodigious mercantile and commercial navy ; an 
active, industrious, and virtuous people; a Government 
capable in all respects, and equally disposed to foster, 
protect, and strengthen all its possessions ; — we say 
with all these things staring them in the face, the poUcy 
of this country has made it the plain palpable interest 
of the Canadians to seek for annexation. This is as 
clear as any problem in Euclid." 

{From a letter of the great apostle of Temperance, 
Father Chiniquy, addressed to the Melanges Re- 
ligieux of October 19, 1849, on his return from the 
United States) 

" I do not exaggerate when I say that there are not 
less than 200,000 Canadians in the United States, and 
imless efficacious means are taken to stop their frightful 
emigration, before ten years 200,000 more of our 
compatriots will have carried to the American Union 
their arms, their intelligence, and their hearts. It is 
no part of my present plan to examine the causes of 
this deplorable emigration ; but it must be always true 
that when a people en masse quits its country, it is 
because that unfortunate coimtry is struck with some 

The Movement in Lower Canada 175 

hideous plague — is devoured with some cancer. God 
has placed in the heart of man love for his country, 
and when man turns his back upon his country, and, 
with the eye moistened by tears, bids it an eternal 
adieu, it is because something essential has been want- 
ing to him in that country. It is because he has 
wanted bread, room, or just liberty. I leave others 
to say which of the three has been deficient in Canada. 
All that I can assure you of is that in the United States 
these three essential elements of the life of nations are 
found in abundance." 

Nor is the decline in prosperity caused by the 
reversal of the protective policy of the mother country, 
by any means less evident than when the former 
address was issued. We need go into no proofs of this 
allegation ; they have been recently proclaimed by 
those who are opposed to the course we desire to 

Under these circumstances, encouraged by Great 
Britain and the United States to act with freedom in 
the exercise of an enlightened judgment, do you see 
any other probable means of escape from a position of 
acknowledged inferiority, than that which has been set 
before you by the advocates of annexation ? Those 
who have protested against the Address to the People 
of Canada have declared their belief that the evils of 
which we complain, and which they recognize, might 
be removed by judicious legislation. They are now 
told that Great Britain can do nothing to restore our 
past advantages. 

Thus says the London Times on this subject : 

" It must be admitted that the latter have griev- 
ances, though not all equally oppressive nor all of 
the same origin. They have been planted and thriven 
under protective laws. Those laws are now abrogated ; 
and abrogated — as the people of Canada have the good 
sense to see — without a chance of re-enactment. So 
far, they suffer, in common with all our colonies, the 

176 The Movement in Lower Canada 

effects of a bad and obsolete colonial system. The 
change, however, is made. The colonists know that 
what has been done will not be undone, and that the 
grain crops of Western Canada must compete in the 
markets of England with the grain crops of the United 
States, of Poland, and of the whole world. They are 
suffering from the revulsion." 

In this particular, as in every other, the views of 
those who addressed you in favour of annexation have 
been fully confirmed. 

Is there any brighter hope from any other quarter ? 
Our opponents maintain that present causes of com- 
plaint would be removed by the attainment of re- 
ciprocal free trade with the United States. It is 
perhaps too soon to affirm as a positive fact that this 
advantage cannot be obtained. But it is quite clear 
that those who lately vaunted most loudly the benefits 
to accrue from it now despair of securing it. They 
have already begun to depreciate it as something of 
very inferior utility. 

For the social and political disadvantages under 
which we labour, no adequate remedy other than that 
which we advocate has ever been proposed. The most 
able British writers — those best acquainted with the 
colony — acknowledge, and at the same time deplore, 
them as inseparable from the colonial condition, and 
inevitable while that condition continues. 

Our country is of no account in the congress of 
nations ; as individuals we are practically excluded 
from the honours of the empire, while men who have 
no permanent interest in our welfare acquire riches 
and obtain honours on our soil. We have no common 
objects of national pride and solicitude ; but as citizens 
of the United States, we should attain a nationality 
worthy of our highest aspirations. 

These sentiments have been so well expressed in a 
late work. The Colonies of England, by J. A. Roebuck, 
Esq., M.P,, that we here transcribe his language : 

" The career that lies between two men, one of whom 

The Movement in Lower Canada It 7 

has been bom and lives upon the southern shore of 
the St. Lawrence, and the other on the north of that 
river, is a striking example of the observation here 
made. The one is a citizen of the United States, the 
other a subject of England, a Canadian colonist. The 
one has a country which he can call his own ; a great 
country, already distinguished in arms, in arts, and in 
some degree in literature. In his country's honour 
and fame the American has a share, and he enters upon 
his career of life with lofty aspirations, hoping to 
achieve fame for himself in some of the many paths to 
renown which his country affords. She has a senate, 
an army, a navy, a bar, many powerful and wealthy 
churches ; her men of science, her physicians, philo- 
sophers, are all a national brotherhood, giving and 
receiving distinction. How galling to the poor colonist 
is the contrast to this which his inglorious career 
affords ! He has no country — the place where he was 
bom, and where he has to linger out his life unknown 
to fame, has no history, no past glory, no present 
renown. What there is of note is England's. 

" Canada is not a nation ; she is a colony — a tiny 
sphere, a satellite of a mighty star in whose brightness 
she is lost. Canada has no navy, no literature, no 
brotherhood of science. If, then, a Canadian looks for 
honour in any of these various fields, he must seek it 
as an Englishman ; he must forget and desert his 
country before he can be known to fame." 

If all these substantial arguments in favour of 
annexation remain unchanged, or have been streng- 
thened by lapse of time, you will certainly not be 
deterred from pursuing the course indicated as de- 
sirable, by the arbitrary commands of those who assume 
to be your masters. Those who addressed you were 
known to be beyond suspicion of seeking personal 
emolument from the public funds. They employed no 
force but that of reason ; they repudiated every means 
but that, most lawful — the assent of every constituted 
authority in the state. They desire to fortify, and, 


178 The Movement in Lower Canada 

where necessary, to create a public opinion in favour 
of their views, which should be manifested, not on paper 
merely, but in that authoritative way which the Con- 
stitution has contemplated, in giving to the people the 
right of electing their legislators. They, therefore, did 
not endeavour to obtain all the names which might have 
been procured to the document they put forth. They 
were satisfied, when they had enrolled sufficient 
adherents without solicitation, to show that they were 
not a few deluded men, acting without warrant of 
widespread public thought. How have they been 
replied to ? Their opponents have sent agents through 
the most populous countries immediately adjoining the 
city unexpectedly favoured by the removal of the seat 
of Government. As well there, as in this city, they 
have employed against us every influence derived from 
ofi&cial patronage, and yet how trifling has been their 
success ! 

In the absence of argument, persecution has been 
resorted to by an Executive, affecting to owe its 
existence to the popular will, against such as dared 
assert the right, not of British subjects merely, but 
of intellectual beings — the right of thought and free 

Fellow Colonists, will you submit to have your free 
political action suppressed by such means ? Are your 
servants to dictate to you the subjects which may 
engage your attention, and prohibit all others under 
pain of their interference and censure ? We trust not. 
We feel assured that you will feel more inclined to 
support those who have been opposed by means which 
we will not characterize otherwise than as oppressive. 
We now call on such of you as are favourable to our 
views to exert yourselves, in order that the great object 
before us may be speedily attained. All agree in be- 
lieving that annexation is inevitable — a mere question 
of time. It is our conviction that there can be no 
settled policy — no established public credit — no cessa- 
tion of public strife — no prosperity — until we reach 

The Movement in Lower Canada 179 

the state to which we are destined. Let us then unite 
to secure it as early as possible. 

John Redpath, President. 
R. McKay 
A. A. DoRiON 

December 15, 1849. 

— 1 


The Annexation Association of Montreal begs to 
thank such portions of the Press as have lent their 
assistance, for the able aid they have offered. The 
association, while it recognizes no exposition of its 
views except those which shall be signed by its officers, 
feels a deep debt of gratitude to those who have 
generously stood up for truth and the people, against 
the obloquy which has been cast on both. 

This time the address fell fiat. Although greeted 
with the warmest commendation by the annexation 
press,* it failed to arouse even a moiety of the interest 
of the original manifesto. The mind of the public 
was already partially diverted in other directions, and 
the address itself was not sufficiently striking to recall 
the wandering attention of the populace. It was a 
well-considered statement of the faith of the Annexa- 
tionists, but it contained little new. Its chief interest 
lay in the laboured attempt to defend, or rather justify, 
the policy of annexation under cover of the declarations 
of English statesmen and the opinions of the English 
press. The charge of treason levelled against them by 
the loyalists disquieted their peace of mind, even though 
it did not stir up their consciences to repentance. So 
extensive were the quotations from the public press, 
especially from the organs of the Manchester School, 
that the address was open to the criticism of being a 
mere collection of newspaper clippings. The argument 
failed to convince the public, for it bore upon its face 
the evidence of special pleading. The leaders of the 

* L'Avenir, December 21, 1849. 

180 The Movement in Lower Canada 

annexation party had somewhat mistaken the temper 
of the people ; they had interpreted the discontent of 
the pubHc as an evidence of annexation sentiment. 
The movement, according to The Gazette, was premature 
in its conception and impohtic in its activities, and 
" those who initiated it had weakened their own cause 
by separating from a powerful party who were ad- 
vocating changes which must be made before their own 
scheme of annexation can succeed." * 

The struggle between the loyalist and annexationist 
press was becoming increasingly bitter. Charges and 
counter charges were bandied back and forth. On the 
one hand, Lord Elgin was accused of attempting to 
bribe the Catholic bishops to oppose annexation ; * on 
the other, the charge was made that the annexation 
cause and press were receiving aid from the United 
States, In respect to the latter charge. The Herald 
protested : " We do not believe, nor have we any 
reason to believe, that one single farthing has been 
subscribed in the city of New York with a view to 
aiding the annexation movement," ' In both cases, 
the accusation was indignantly denied, but in neither 
case was the denial accepted in good faith by the 
accusing party.* 

The appearance of the manifesto awakened an in- 
terest in Quebec little less keen than that in Montreal. 
All the papers, both English and French, devoted 
considerable attention to the subject, and all with one 
exception united in condemning the address in more 
or less decisive language. For once the English Tory 
papers found themselves in accord with the French 
Reform press. The Chronicle declared that the time 
was not yet ripe for annexation, and that the manifesto 
had been launched without due regard to the means 
by which the object in view could be accomplished. 

> The Gazette, December 31, 1849. 

* L'Avenir, November 4, 1849. 

* The Herald, December 29, 1849. 

* The Gazette alleged that the funds in question had been raised 
for the support of the revolt in Ireland, December 31, 1849, 

The Movement in Lower Canada 181 

The peaceful pretensions of the Annexationists were 
worthless, since the records of history amply proved 
that separation had never been attained by mere 
moral suasion. The Mercury contended that, in 
addition to the strong moral ties which bound the 
Canadian people to the heart of the motherland, there 
were many material interests which England could not 
sacrifice without seriously impairing her power and 
prestige as an Imperial State. She would not consent 
to the amicable dismemberment of the empire, and to 
the loss of the fortifications and public works of the 
colonies upon which she had poured out so much 
money. The British Empire was not subject to the 
grant of any Government ; it was held in trust for 
future generations. 

The attitude of the French Liberal papers was 
equally hostile to a political union. Le Canadien 
ridiculed the false, glowing prospects held out by the 
Annexationists, who professed, in effect, to be able to 
change the climate of the country, and to bring Canada 
within the com and cotton belt, by the simple process 
of eliminating the boundary line. It warned its fellow 
countrymen of the sinister designs of the Annexationists 
against their race. If they (the French-Canadians) 
understood the real object of the Annexationists, they 
would receive the emissaries of the new political creed 
" a coups de fourche." La Gazette de Quebec declared 
" that there was nothing in the actual state of depres- 
sion in Canada which could not find a prompt and 
efficacious remedy by the adoption of well-considered 
legislation, without having recourse to a measure which 
outraged the feelings of the Canadian people, was 
revolutionary in character, and tended to dismember 
the British Empire." 

In an able series of articles Le Journal de Quebec 
undertook to controvert the whole argument of the 
Annexationists.* It pointed out the striking incon- 
sistency in the tone of the manifesto, and the leading 

* Le Journal de Quibec, October i8, 20, 23, and 27, 1849. 

182 The Movement in Lower Canada 

articles of The Courier ; for, whereas the former was 
loud in its professions of the most cordial friendship 
for all the inhabitants of the province, the latter was 
breathing out threatenings against the French, and 
advocating annexation as the best means of crushing 
French ascendency. Peace and goodwill, it ironically 
remarked, were the hypocritical watchwords of all 
revolutionaries. The commercial condition of the 
province was, it contended, by no means as bad as 
the manifesto represented. The existing economic de- 
pression was felt as severely in Europe as in Canada, 
and was, at worst, merely temporary, for there were 
already signs of returning prosperity. Owing to over- 
speculation, the distress in Montreal was particularly 
acute, but the conditions in that city were not repre- 
sentative of the province at large. In clamouring for 
annexation, the Montreal merchants were failing in 
courage and patriotism, and were pusillanimously 
seeking to throw off on England the blame for their 
own weakness and folly. 

Notwithstanding the opposition of the press, the 
Annexationists of Quebec were by no means daunted 
or discouraged, but proceeded to organize an associa- 
tion on similar lines to that in Montreal. A circular 
was distributed throughout the city calling for a 
meeting of all the friends of annexation at the Hotel 
St. George.* From thirty to fifty persons assembled, 
not all of whom, however, were Annexationists. Mr. 
M. H. Dubard,* the chairman of the meeting, and 
Mr. M. Bonner, of La Gazette de Quebec, played the 
most prominent part in getting the organization under 
way. An annexation address was prepared, and sub- 
sequently circulated throughout the city. About five 
hundred signatures in all were obtained. 

The canvassers appear to have been careless or over- 

* October 17, 1849. 

» Le Journal de Quibec described him as an irresponsible stranger, 
whose views had ailways been opposed to the interests of his com- 

The Movement in Lower Canada 183 

zealous in their work, for many persons at once came 
forward to protest that their names had been placed 
upon the list without their knowledge or authorization. 
The majority of the signatures, according to L'Ami 
de la Religion, were collected in the backward quarters 
of the city by the most deceitful means. According 
to report, quite a number of ignorant French-Canadians 
were induced to sign the address by the alluring repre- 
sentation that their debts to the Government would 
be cancelled in case of annexation. However, the 
names of many excellent citizens were found upon 
the list, although but few, if any, were persons of 
outstanding influence and character in the commimity. 

The Annexationists were so much encouraged by the 
success of this canvass, and by the receipt of a letter 
from Papineau, urging an immediate separation from 
Great Britain, that they determined to make a demon- 
stration in force. An attempt was made to secure the 
Parliament building for a public meeting, but the mayor 
refused to allow the building to be used for that 
purpose. This little contretemps proved an excellent 
advertisement for the meeting. The rally at St, 
George's Hall, in point of attendance and public in- 
terest, was a great success ; but owing to the presence 
of a considerable number of loyalists, who persistently 
interrupted the proceedings, the meeting was turned 
into a veritable Donnybrook Fair. Both nationalities 
were represented on the programme ; Dr. Brady pre- 
sided, and M. Aubin acted as pro tern, secretary ; 
Messrs. AUeyn and Soulard were the chief French 
orators, while Mr. Gordon, of the British American 
League, spoke on behalf of the English community. 

A series of resolutions were adopted, declaring : 
(i) That the general discussion of the subject of inde- 
pendence and annexation was worthy of the atten- 
tion of the citizens of Quebec. (2) That in view of 
the commercial, political, and social difficulties of the 
province, the importance and increasing needs of the 
country, and the small interest which England had 

184 The Movement in Lower Canada 

taken in the welfare of the colonies, this meeting 
expressed its firm conviction that a peaceable separa- 
tion from the motherland with a view to annexation 
to the United States was indispensable to the tran- 
quillity and prosperity of Canada. (3) That English 
statesmen would willingly accord independence, if 
desired by the majority of the Canadian people. It 
was further resolved to form a local association to 
promote the object in view, and to secure the return 
to Parliament of members favourable to the cause of 
annexation. A committee of fifty-one persons, repre- 
senting the English, French, and Irish sections of the 
population, was appointed to draw up a constitution 
for the association. 

When the first resolution was proposed, according 
to Le Journal de Quebec, it was rejected by a large 
majority, though the chairman declared it carried. 
The loyalists attempted to capture the meeting ; but, 
owing to the non-appearance of their speakers, they 
were forced to content themselves with loudly cheering 
for the Queen. The meeting broke up in great con- 
fusion. In order to avenge themselves on their 
opponents, the Rouges attacked the house of Mr. 
Couchon, the local Reform member. At a large mass 
meeting in the suburbs of St. Roch's, the following 
Sunday, the struggle between the supporters of Papineau 
and Lafontaine again broke out. A resolution in 
favour of annexation was carried with difficulty.' 

In the meantime the loyalists of the city had been 
equally active. The officers of the militia signed an 
address condemning the manifesto, asserting their 
loyalty to the Crown, and their readiness " to stand 
forward in defence of the glorious Constitution under 
which they had the happiness to serve." In order to 
counteract the annexationist address, and to attest 
the strength of pro-British sentiment in the city, a 
counter protest was prepared, and thrown open to 

» According to The Montreal Courier, three thousand persons were 
present, and the resolutions were carried unanimously. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 185 

the public for signature. The response was eminently 
satisfactory ; without even the formality of a canvass, 
upwards of i,ooo names were secured ; in the French 
ward of St. Roch alone, over 300 names were appended 
to the document. 

The success which had attended the annexation 
movement aroused the righteous indignation of Bishop 
Mountain, who feared that the interest of the Anglican 
Church might be imperilled by a union with a non- 
episcopal country. Although but seldom participating 
in politics, he felt constrained by a sense of duty to 
draw up a pastoral letter to the clergy and laity of the 
diocese, entitled : Thoughts on Annexation in Connec- 
tion with the Duty and Interests of Members of the 
Church of England, and as affecting some Particular 
Religious Questions. The address revealed the bishop 
in the dual role of the ecclesiastic and the politician, 
the High Churchman and the man of worldly wisdom ; 
it afforded a splendid exposition of the principles of a 
High Church Tory who, amid all his sacerdotalism, 
was not forgetful of the material advantages which 
flowed from ecclesiastical preferment, and refused to 
surrender them without a struggle. 

At the outset, the bishop called upon all Churchmen 
to bear in mind the scriptural injunction : " My son, 
fear thou the Lord and the king, and meddle not with 
them that are given to change." He indignantly 
repudiated the charge that the clergy were loyal solely 
because they feared that they might lose their emolu- 
ments by annexation. But, notwithstanding this re- 
pudiation, he proceeded to demonstrate in his own 
person that the Church was not indifferent to merely 
worldly considerations. The material position of the 
Church in Canada was, in his opinion, greatly superior 
to that of the Episcopalian Church in the United States. 
Annexation would involve the most injurious conse- 
quences to the Church, in the loss of its ecclesiastical 
authority and the prestige of the English connection 
and establishment ; it would occasion the sacrifice of 

186 The Movement in Lower Canada 

the endowments of the Church, in particular the with- 
drawal or cancellation of the clergy reserves for the 
maintenance of the clergy. The Church would be 
forced to fall back upon the system of voluntary support 
in effect in other religious organizations. From a 
religious point of view, also, annexation would be most 
objectionable in introducing the curse of slavery into 

" True," he concluded, " there is the same Episcopal 
communion in the United States, but it is not the 
national Church of England with the peculiar char- 
acteristics and appendages of that establishment which 
have gone far to mould the national mind and manners, 
and to stamp upon Englishmen an impress which is 
received even by unwilling hands as a striking mark 
in every part of the world. Pause, then, before you 
throw up your title and distinction as Englishmen. 
English Churchmen, hold your hand, and think twice, 
before you sign away your interest in the land of your 
fathers and its institutions, before you pledge that 
hand to those who would begin the dismemberment of 
the empire." Even if the industries of the country 
were depressed for the time, and even though there 
were difficulties in their colonial relations affecting 
their private interests, nevertheless they might " find 
it a precipitate and ill-advised, as it certainly was an 
unjustifiable, step to rush into this experiment of 
annexation." Changes, depression, and political tur- 
moil were not confined to Canada, but were also 
common to the American States. Under these circum- 
stances, it was better, both from a religious and 
political standpoint, for Churchmen to remain con- 
tent with their present status, rather than to seek 

Shortly after these events, there occurred a splendid 
opportunity of testing the strength of annexation 
sentiment in the city. The appointment of Mr. 
Chabot as Commissioner of Public Works created a 
vacancy in the city's representation. Urged on by 

The Movement in Lower Canada 187 

L'Avenir, the Annexationists determined to oppose the 
re-election of the hon. minister, provided a suitable 
candidate could be secured. Fortunately for the 
party, a popular and influential citizen, Joseph Legare, 
who had contested the Riding in the Papineau interest 
at the late general election, was ready to enter the 
lists again. At a meeting of the Annexationists at 
which about 200 persons were present, the situation 
was thoroughly canvassed, and it was resolved to 
support Mr. Legare, on condition that he would openly 
declare himself an Annexationist.^ 

In response to this demand, Legare came out in 
favour of annexation in his election address. The 
prospect of an annexation victory appeared very 
promising. At the late general election Mr. Legare 
had received a majority of the French-Canadian votes, 
and there was every reason to believe that, on this 
occasion, he would poll the full strength of the Papineau 
Party and of the English Annexationists, and in addition 
would receive the support of a considerable number of 
Tory irreconcilables who would vote for any candidate 
in opposition to the Government. If he could capture 
one-third of the English voters, his election was deemed 
to be assured.' 

At the nomination proceedings, the friends of Legare 
were in a decisive majority, and Mr. Chabot was forced 
to withdraw and leave the meeting to his rival. The 
struggle became daily more intense. The annexation 
campaign was very adroitly conducted by Messrs. Aubin, 
Frechette,* and Lee, the local leaders of the party. 
A special appeal was made to the working-men and 
the discontented Irish, to rally to the support of a 
true democratic candidate. The Annexationists, how- 
ever, were placed at a decided disadvantage by the 
lack of a local organ, as L' Independent Canadien had 

* December 23, 1849. 
' L'^i/emV, January 4, 1850. 

' Messrs. Aubin and Frechette were fornaer residents in the United 

188 The Movement in Lower Canada 

been forced to suspend publication not long before. 
The Montreal annexationist papers, especially Le 
Moniteur Canadien and L'Avenir, did their best to 
supply this deficiency by devoting special attention to 
the affairs of the district. The latter journal appealed 
to the material interests of the citizens of Quebec by 
adroitly suggesting the possible removal of the capital 
to Upper Canada. With annexation, however, Quebec 
would be made the permanent seat of government of 
a newly formed state ; and, moreover, would inevit- 
ably become a great ship-building centre, and entrepot 
of trade for the western states of the Union.' 

The Montreal Association likewise realized the 
cardinal importance of the election. If the seat could 
be won, the whole province would be convinced of the 
strength of the movement, and it was believed would 
soon follow in the wake of Quebec. It was accordingly 
resolved to lend financial assistance to the Quebec 
Annexationists, upon receiving assurance of the reason- 
able probability of Mr. Legare's election. The assur- 
ances were evidently satisfactory, for, soon after, 
several hundred pounds were sent to Quebec for 
judicious distribution in the annexation interest.* 

The Reform press and Party were putting up an 
equally aggressive fight on behalf of the new Com- 
missioner. They adroitly sought to give the campaign 
a semi-religious character by representing the annexa- 
tion movement as an insidious attack upon the Catholic 
faith. At the same time, they appealed to the Tory 
loyalists not to carry their hostility to the Government 
to the extreme of voting for an Annexationist ; but, on 
this one occasion, to prove their loyalty to the Crown 
by supporting the ministerial candidate. For the 
moment, the position of the Tory Party in Quebec was 
one of superior power and great responsibility. The 
electoral contest had resolved itself into a struggle 
between the Government and the Papineau Party, 

* L'Avenir, December 28, 1849. 

' The Montreal Gazette, January 30, 1850. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 189 

now reinforced by the English Annexationists, with 
both of the contending parties urgently appealing for 
the support of the independent electorate. 

The Tories did not feel strong enough, or deem it 
expedient, to put up a candidate of their own ; but they 
held the balance of power, or at least appeared to do 
so. They could crush or give a fillip to the annexation 
movement. They had a splendid opportunity of 
vindicating the reputation of the party for loyalty, 
which had been so much aspersed by the recent pro- 
ceedings of their political friends in Montreal. But 
they missed the opportunity. Some of the ultra- 
Tories resolved to defeat the Government at all costs. 
The local leaders of the party, such as Munn and 
Gilmour, ostensibly opposed any participation in the 
annexation campaign, but they failed to take any 
action to check the seditious e^orts of many of their 
fellow partisans. Of the Tory papers. The Chronicle 
and The Gazette adopted a neutral attitude in the 
contest, but The Mercury threw its influence on the 
side of the annexation candidate. 

The election proved a much greater victory for the 
Government than even the most ardent Reformers had 
expected ; for Mr. Chabot was returned by a majority 
of about 800, almost double that of the general election 
in 1848. Every ward in the city, and every poll but 
one, gave a plurality to the Commissioner of Public 
Works. The French-Canadian section of the city 
polled an almost unanimous vote in favour of the 
Government candidate. On the other hand, Mr. Legare 
ran slightly ahead of his opponent among the English- 
speaking population. 

A scrutiny of the ballots brought out the fact that a 
considerable number of Tories followed The Mercury's 
advice to vote against the Commissioner of Public 
Works. Thanks to the efforts of John Maguire, the 
Irish Reformers were kept in line, though the majority 
of the Irish voters were captured by the appeals of 
the Annexationists to their anti-English feelings. The 

190 The Movement in Lower Canada 

handful of Scotch electors, true to their Liberal tradi- 
tions, voted as usual for the Reform candidate ; but 
the majority of the English voters, who constituted a 
much larger element of the electorate, cast their ballots 
on the other side. To the French-Canadians was due 
the honour of vindicating the loyalty of the Canadian 
people. " The partisans of law and order," declared 
L'Ami de la Religion, " have had to struggle against 
the Annexationists, against those who possessing 
nothing have nothing to lose, and against the intrigues 
of certain Tories," who, in their hatred of the French, 
were willing to join forces with the enemies of the 
Queen. The result of the contest, it concluded, marked 
the triumph of the principles of a constitutional mon- 
archy over the principles of republican institutions. 

The splendid victory of Mr. Chabot tempted two of 
the local Tory journals to forget their previous benevo- 
lent neutrality, and to claim a share in the triumph. 
But they were not prepared to recognize the result as a 
vindication of the Government. The election, accord- 
ing to The Gazette, " could not be considered as an 
approbation of the Ministry, but rather as a demon- 
stration of public opinion against annexation." Al- 
though not displeased at the defeat of the Annexa- 
tionists, The Chronicle regretted that Legar6 had not 
been brought out as a straight opposition candidate, in 
which case, it believed, the chances of his election 
would have been much better. On the other hand, 
L'Avenir, though disappointed, was by no means 
dejected over the result. The defeat was due, in its 
opinion, to the dominating influence of the priests over 
the French population, and the liberal use of money by 
the supporters of the Government. It pointed with 
pride to the poll of 1,200 votes for Mr. Legar6 as con- 
clusive evidence of the vitality of the annexation 

The validity of these various explanations was 
naturally attacked by the ministerial journals. They 
* L'Avenir, February 12, 1850. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 191 

denied in toto that the return of Mr. Chabot was due 
either to corrupt or ecclesiastical influences, and ridi- 
culed the contention that Legare would have polled 
a larger number of French-Canadian votes as a Tory 
candidate. The election was, according to Le Journal 
de Quebec, a triumph for the Government and the anti- 
Annexationists alike. As the question of annexation 
was made the dominant issue in the election, it claimed 
that it was but just to add to the loyalist vote the 
names of all those electors, who by the non-exercise of 
their right of franchise had declared in effect in favour 
of the maintenance of the existing British regime.' 

The result of the election was a severe disappoint- 
ment to the Montreal Annexationists, some of whom 
were inclined to indulge in captious criticism of the 
mode in which the election had been conducted.* 
Mr. Legare, The Courier declared, was not a candidate 
of the party, and the association should never have 
recognized him as such. In case of a future vacancy 
in any constituency, it should be the duty of the 
Executive of the association to select or ratify a 
candidate, and then support him by all honourable 
means. The Gazette drew from the defeat the lesson 
of the necessity of unifying the forces of the opposition. 
It appealed to the British Annexationists to drop the 
question of annexation for the time being, and to join 
with their Conservative brethren and the progressive 
French party in overthrowing their common foe — the 
Reform Government. But the appeal was fruitless. 
The Annexationists determined to continue the struggle 
more aggressively, if possible, throughout the province. 

In the Three Rivers District, the attempt of the 

^ Le Journal de Quibec, January 31, 1850. 

" The Montreal correspondent of The New York Post wrote : " Our 
party managed the affair very badly ; they should have been satis- 
fied to know that Legare was an annexationist in principle, but 
they should not have put him forward ostensibly on that ground ; 
had they not done so all the British party would have voted for 
him as against the Government." — The New York Post, February 
15, 1850 

192 The Movement in Lower Canada 

Annexationists to obtain a favourable hearing resulted 
in failure. A meeting at St. Frangois, Yamaska, 
which was regularly called by the local magistrate, at 
theinstance of the Annexationists, unanimously adopted 
a resolution, " that this parish deems it its duty to 
declare publicly its determination to aid in maintaining 
the connection with Great Britain." Le Journal des 
Trois Riviires, the chief ministerial organ of the district, 
declared : "At first we did not think it necessary to 
oppose the movement, but now that the question has 
become a live one, it appears to us urgent, even in- 
dispensable, that there should be demonstrations and 
assemblies in all parts of the country against annexa- 
tion." The French-Canadians, especially, should seize 
the occasion to disprove the reflections so often cast 
upon their loyalty by their opponents, and to show 
their appreciation of the rights which the Crown had 
granted them, and their fidelity to the flag which 
guaranteed those rights, and protected them. 

In no part of the province outside of Montreal did 
the annexation movement meet with such favour as in 
the Eastern Townships, especially among the English 
population. As a small and isolated minority in the 
midst of a large French population, they were keenly 
sensitive of the danger of the political ascendency of 
an alien race, whose social and religious life was essen- 
tially different from their own. The sense of social 
isolation had produced a feeling of ultra-loyalty to the 
British Crown and British institutions. The passage 
of the Rebellion Losses Bill was looked upon as a 
personal humiliation and a base betrayal, since it dealt 
a severe blow to their superior prestige, and placed a 
premium upon the disloyalty of their political op- 
ponents. The action of the English Government was 
especially resented by the local Tories as an unjust 
return for their lifelong devotion to the Crown. 

But the commercial factor, as we have seen, was 
even more powerful than the political grievance in 
developing the desire for annexation. The situation 

The Movement in Lower Canada 193 

of the district along the American border necessarily 
produced a social intimacy and a close commercial 
connection with the neighbouring states. The fruit- 
fulness of the soil and the energy of the people had won 
for the district an enviable reputation for comfort and 
prosperity. But the withdrawal of the English pre- 
ference, and the closing of the American market, dealt 
a crushing blow to the local farmers. Through no fault 
of their own they were reduced from comparative 
affluence to poverty. They were the victims of 
artificial circumstances over which they had no con- 
trol. Their hearts were filled with resentment and 

Thanks to these favourable conditions, the annexa- 
tion movement spread like wildfire throughout the 
whole district. The County of Sherbrooke took the 
lead. A requisition was drawn up, and signed by over 
one thousand of the inhabitants, of all three national- 
ities,* endorsing the Montreal manifesto, and calling 
upon Mr. A. T. Gait, the local representative, for a 
public expression of his views. Much to the disap- 
pointment of the loyalists, who had counted upon his 
fidelity to the Crown,* Mr. Gait threw aside his former 
professions of loyalty, and came out boldly for an- 

In a long and somewhat laboured letter, Mr. Gait 
set forth in the darkest colours the unfortunate political 
and economic conditions of the province, for which he 
held the colonial regime primarily responsible. The 
colonial status was admitted by English statesmen to 
be " one of tutelage merely," from which they would 
gladly release the people of Canada, when the latter so 
desired. " It will be a far nobler cause for pride in 
Great Britain to have educated such a vast nation in 
the proper enjoyment of freedom, than to possess for 

* The list was said to contain the names of about seventy American 

^ The Quebec Gazette had prophesied that Mr. Gait would give 
his constituents some " good EngUsh advice." 


194 The Movement in Lower Canada 

ever the nominal control of the whole continent as 
discontented and suffering colonies." Canada, he 
argued, had reached a position where it " was essential 
for its advancement that it should be independent." 

" To make Canada great, there must be opened to 
her inhabitants those elements of emulation and pride 
which will call forth all their energies ; the dissensions 
of her citizens must be terminated by abolishing dis- 
tinctions of race ; they must be made to feel that they 
form part of one great country, and that its destinies 
are entrusted to their guidance. Were it possible for 
Canada to become an integral part of the British 
Empire, still, its position is such as to blend its interests 
more naturally with the United States and to make 
the former connection less desirable. But knowing as 
we do the Constitution of Great Britain, and the 
varied interests which govern its legislation, it is not 
a question of choice whether we shall be incorporated 
with Great Britain, or with the United States, but, 
shall we remain a dependency of the former, or become 
an integral part of the latter country ? 

" The permanent interests of Canada, its present 
state, and its future prospects all point to the adoption 
of annexation ; and unless it be the case, contrary to 
my belief, that we now possess all the means of develop- 
ment as a people that are essential for prosperity, we 
may expect to see the country languish, and latent 
discontent ever on the eve of breaking out, until our 
independence be acknowledged. A union with the 
United States will give Canada a place among nations ; 
the accumulated wisdom of their legislators will be- 
come our own ; we shall share in the triumph of their 
unparalleled progress ; we shall reap the fruits of that 
political skill which has thus far shielded their institu- 
tions from harm ; our interests will be watched over, 
and our industry protected and encouraged, by their 
wise commercial policy ; and, although no longer 
dependent on Great Britain, we shall feel that we have 
served her well in ensuring that harmony between the 

The Movement in Lower Canada 195 

two countries which is now constantly in peril from 
conflicting interests." 

In reply to the arguments of the British connection- 
ists to the effect that annexation would increase the 
burden of taxation of the province, and despoil it of 
its public works and public lands, he contended that 
annexation would reduce the cost of living, and relieve 
the colony of its public debt and the expense of ad- 
ministering its public lands, and entitle it to a share of 
the public works and increasing revenue of the United 
States. In conclusion, he pointed out that " the safety 
of the country " demanded " that the legislature should 
direct the movement." No local agitation or sectional 
demand could exert any influence on the English 

In virtue of his superior ability, personal integrity, 
and business connection, as managing director of the 
British American Land Association, which owned 
extensive holdings throughout the district, Mr. Gait 
was probably the most influential man in the Eastern 
Townships. His open avowal of annexation convic- 
tions carried great weight with the general public, and 
especially with the tenants of the company and the 
commercial class ; moreover, the sound and substantial 
arguments he advanced in favour of annexation were 
calculated to appeal with telling force to the business 
instincts of the people. 

The accession of Mr. Gait encouraged the Montreal 
association to press forward its campaign among 
the agriculturists of the district. Public meetings 
were called wherever a small band of sympathizers 
could be gathered together. Speakers were sent out 
from headquarters to canvass the community, address 
public gatherings, and organize local associations. To 
the Hon. Robert Jones and Mr. Charles Laberge was 
committed the mission of spreading the doctrines of 
annexation among their fellow countrymen. The 
agents were wisely chosen. The Hon. Robert Jones 
was a popular member of the Legislative Council, who 

196 The Movement in Lower Canada 

enjoyed more than a local reputation on the hustings, 
while his colleague was an active worker in the Papineau 
Party, and a successful public speaker. The task of 
Mr. Laberge proved the more difficult undertaking, for 
the French habitants were much less favourably in- 
clined towards the new ideas than their more pro- 
gressive English neighbours. 

The campaign started off auspiciously. As the result 
of a series of successful meetings, local associations 
were formed at Durham, St. George d'Henryville,' St. 
Athanase,' Bedford,* and Clarence ville.* At all these 
various gatherings resolutions of the same general order 
were adopted : (i) approving of the Montreal mani- 
festo ; (2) pledging the support of the meeting to such 
candidates only as were avowed Annexationists ; (3) 
charging the deplorable condition of the province to 
its colonial status, and alleging, in effect, that it would 
be more advantageous to England to have a prosperous 
ally than a ruined colony ; (4) declaring that legal 
means should be adopted to obtain the consent of the 
English Government to a peaceful separation and an- 
nexation to the United States ; and (5) affiliating the 
local branch with the Montreal association. The com- 
mercial condition of the province received special 
consideration at the Clarenceville meeting. Additional 
resolutions were there adopted declaring : (i) " That 
their sentiments of respect and filial affection towards 
Great Britain remained unchanged," but that the 
reversal of the commercial policy of the empire forced 
them " to seek to ameliorate their social, political, and 
commercial condition by a peaceful separation from the 
motherland, and by annexation to the United States " ; 
(2) That by annexation Canadian products would gain 
free entry into the American market, which would 

* L'Avenir, November 27, 1849. 
' December 5, 1849. 

* The meetings at Bedford and Clarenceville were held in response 
to local requisitions. At the latter place the call was signed by over 
two hundred persons (L'Avenir, December 28, 1849). 

* December 22, 1849. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 197 

more than compensate for the loss of the English pre- 
ference ; and (3) That the existing condition of colonial 
dependence upon English manufactures was injurious 
to the progress of mechanical arts in the province. 

At all these meetings the chief interest in the pro- 
ceedings was manifested by members of the English 
community. They were chiefly instrumental in the 
organization of the local associations, and, in the 
majority of cases, all the officers and members of 
the committees were of the English race ; even in 
the branches in which the French were represented 
on the directorate, they played but a subordinate part 
in the conduct of affairs. The two races refused to 
amalgamate ; even the common commercial interests 
of the two nationalities were not sufficiently strong to 
overcome the inherited suspicion of the French popu- 
lation on the one hand, and the feeling of superiority 
of the English on the other. 

But not all the annexation meetings met with the 
same measure of success. In some instances the 
attempt to form local associations turned out to be 
complete failures,* owing either to the small attendance, 
or to the unfriendly attitude of the audience. But, as 
a general rule, the loyalists of the Eastern Townships 
offered but little opposition to the annexation propa- 
ganda. Save for a few loyal addresses from the 
officers of several French-Canadian battalions, and a 
declaration of loyalty from the Tories of Melbourne, 
the Annexationists had matters their own way. For 
a time it appeared as though they had swept the 

The Annexationists of the County of Stanstead soon 
followed the example of their friends in Sherbrooke and 
drew up a requisition calling upon Mr. McConnell to 
declare his views in regard to annexation. The plan 
again worked successfully, both in securing the signa- 
tures of a large number of the leading residents of the 
Riding, and in eliciting a favourable response from the 
^ At Hinchinbrook, Belle Rividre, and Stanstead. 

198 The Movement in Lower Canada 

local member. In an open reply to the requisition, 
McConnell declared : ' 

" I have given it my utmost attention, and, after 
due consideration, do not hesitate to avow — deeply 
feeling the responsibility which I hereby incur — that I 
desire (to quote the words of the Montreal Address) a 
friendly and peaceful separation from the British con- 
nection, and a union upon equitable terms with the 
North American confederation of sovereign states. 

" The first and principal reason arises from the 
present state of the country and our destitution of any 
adequate means to effect these changes and improve- 
ments which the interests of the country imperatively 

He severely criticized the policies of both political 
parties in Canada, and particularly condemned the 
change of fiscal policy in the motherland. Since Eng- 
land had revolutionized her colonial policy, it was 
useless to look to her for help. " Our interests and 
theirs are totally incompatible." 

" While the political bonds which cement us to 
England are dissolving by the mere action of circum- 
stances, those ties which are eventually to link us to 
the great confederation of our neighbours, are becoming 
more and more apparent." Throughout half the year 
the ports of the St. Lawrence were closed, and the 
inhabitants of the province were dependent upon the 
favour of the United States for the importation of 
American and other foreign goods. In case of the 
importation of European articles, the Canadian mer- 
chant and consumer found himself subjected to the 
payment of double duties, those imposed by the 
American tariff, and those collected under the Canadian 
Customs Act. At the same time, a high tariff was set 
up by the United States against Canadian products, 
while American goods were admitted into the English 
market upon equal terms with colonial products. 

^ January I, 1850. Copy of letter, Montreal Gazette, January 14, 

The Movement in Lower Canada 199 

Under these discriminatory conditions, it was impossible 
for the Canadian merchant and producer to compete 
with his favoured American neighbours. The remedy, 
he concluded, was not to be found, either in a return to 
the policy of an imperial preference, or in the adoption 
of a reciprocity agreement with the United States, as 
was proposed in certain quarters, but in annexation. 
It was no longer considered disloyal to advocate a 
separation from Great Britain, and he was prepared 
to debate the question upon the floor of the House.' 

With the advent of the New Year, the annexation 
campaign was pushed forward with renewed vigour. A 
grand rally was held at St. Athanase in Rouville County, 
at which about a thousand persons were present. 
A deputation from the Montreal Association went down 
to take part in the proceedings.' Additional interest 
was lent to the gathering by the presence of Dr. 
Davignon, the local member, and a body of personal 
friends and supporters. The action of the Doctor in 
signing the protest of the members of the Legislature 
against annexation had already called forth a vote of 
censure from some of his constituents,' and it was 
anticipated that on this occasion another attempt 
would be made to condemn his pro-British stand. The 
mayor occupied the chair. Messrs. Jones and Laberge 
were the principal speakers. The latter declared that 
the meeting had been convoked for two different 
purposes : first, to consider if annexation were advan- 

1 In a series of articles in reply to the letters of Gait and McConnell, 
" An Englishman " set forth the following objections to annexation : 
(i) That peaceful separation was impossible ; (2) That England 
would not agree to dismember the empire ; (3) That separation 
would entail a long civil war ; (4) That annexation would only 
aggravate racial difficulties ; (5) That the withdrawal of the British 
troops would throw the cost of defence and maintaining civil order 
upon the local revenue ; (6) That annexation would be expensive 
to all classes of the community ; (7) That England would grant 
elective institutions for the asking ; (8) That Canadians should 
create subordinate machinery of government and learn to run it 
before venturing to alter the constitution. 

' Including Messrs. Jones, Laberge, Penny and Papin. 

' Resolution of meeting at St. George d'Henrjrville. 

200 The Movement in Lower Canada 

tageous, and if so, how to obtain it ; and second, to give 
Dr. Davignon an opportunity to explain his position. 

By way of introduction, he described at some length 
the nature and workings of the United States Con- 
stitution, and then appealed to the audience to deter- 
mine whether it would not be better for the Canadian 
people to elect their own Governor, rather than to have 
one selected for them by a distant sovereign who was 
ignorant of the needs of the country. He severely 
criticized the high salary of the Governor-General as 
compared with that of the Governors of the American 
States, and in conclusion emphasized the social, 
political, and commercial advantages which would 
result from annexation. An opportunity was given 
Dr. Davignon to speak, of which he gladly availed 
himself. The annexation movement, he pointed out 
for the benefit of his compatriots, had originated with 
the Tory Party, and had taken on a distinctly anti- 
French character. He denied the right of the Mayor 
to convoke such an assembly merely on the ground that 
the County was said to favour annexation. Not only 
was the County not in favour of it, but even in those 
parishes where meetings had been held a majority of 
the inhabitants were opposed to it. Moreover, he con- 
tended that the persons in whom the people had most 
confidence were in no way connected with the move- 

At this point, the audience became so unruly that 
Dr. Davignon was forced to sit down, and he and his 
friends withdrew from the meeting.* After this purg- 
ing of the assembly, the Annexationists proceeded to 
pass a series of resolutions, censuring the local member, 

• Mr. Laberge alleged that Dr. Davignon stated in his speech that 
MacNab was the leader of the annexation party, and that W. Molson 
had declared that the object of the association was to crush the 
French -Canadians. 

' L'Avenir reported that two- thirds of the audience remained. 
La Minerve alleged that the anti- Annexationists formed the more 
respectable part of the audience, and that the majority of the 
Annexationists were Tories. Both of these statements, however, 
were denied by L'Avenir. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 201 

attributing the depression of trade to their colonial 
status and the free-trade policy of England, and 
declaring that a peaceful separation was necessary to 
promote the mutual good and prosperity of Canada 
and the parent state. The people of Canada, according 
to the third resolution, could rely upon England's sense 
of justice to grant them independence. The destiny 
of the colony, when once independent, was to become 
an integral part of the United States. Annexation 
would assure to them all the advantages without the 
expense of independence ; it would furnish a market 
for their products, develop a national industry, set up 
a new and democratic form of government, enable them 
to take a leading part among the nations of the world, 
open up to Canadian ambition a worthy field of oppor- 
tunity, now unfortunately closed, guarantee the main- 
tenance of an established social order — " the first 
consideration to the prosperity of a people " — promote 
a simple, prompt, and less costly system of administra- 
tion, and, as a consequence, introduce immigration and 
capital into the country to develop its vast resources.* 
From the standpoint of the Annexationists, the meeting 
was a great success. Dr. Davignon, according to the 
Montreal correspondent of The New York Post, was in 
a hopeless minority at the assembly, and stood no 
chance whatever of being returned to Parliament at 
the next election.* 

At the same time the loyalist friends of the local 
member, made up of a few English gentlemen and a 
considerable number of the local seigneurs, organized 
an independent meeting under the chairmanship of 
Major Campbell,' at which resolutions were adopted, 
refusing to join in the annexation movement, the only 
result of which would necessarily be "to introduce 
fresh miseries " into the country. 

The following day, several magistrates and militia 

* L'Avenir, January 25, 1850. 

' The New York Post, February i, 1850. 

3 The Major was not a resident of the parish. 

202 The Movement in Lower Canada 

officers, all but two of whom were of English descent, 
addressed an open letter to the Provincial Secretary in 
which they asserted that they possessed a constitu- 
tional right to discuss the actual state of the country, 
and to take measures to improve its present sorry 
condition by peaceful means. They not only expressed 
approval of the Montreal manifesto, but boasted of the 
part they had taken in supporting that address. As a 
mark of their appreciation of the labours and sacrifices 
of the fathers of the movement, they tendered the 
resignation of their respective offices. They were un- 
willing, they declared, to retain their positions, when 
so many of their fellow Annexationists had been 
peremptorily dismissed from the public service as 
unworthy to hold any office of honour or profit under 
the Crown.* 

The movement rapidly spread to the neighbouring 
counties. A visit of the Hon. R. Jones to the County 
of Missisquoi led to the organization of a branch 
association at St. Armond, all the officers of which were 
of the Anglo-Saxon race.* In addition to the usual 
resolutions, approving of the manifesto, and deploring 
the political and commercial ills of the country, a 
resolution was adopted condemning in strong terms the 
prescription of freedom of speech in the dismissal of 
many officials against whom no charge was laid save 
in respect to their political opinions in favour of an- 
nexation. The striking similarity of the resolutions 
of the various annexation meetings afforded good 
ground for the allegation that they were previously 
prepared by the Montreal association, and accepted in 
due course by the various audiences, without pretence 
of careful consideration.' The whole campaign in the 
Eastern Townships was, it was claimed, not spontaneous 
in origin or character, but was directed from head- 
quarters in Montreal. 

» The Mirror, February i, 1850. 
• L'Avenir, February 15, 1850. 
» The Pilot, January 26, 1850. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 203 

In the County of Huntingdon, a requisition was 
drawn up, and signed by about a hundred persons, 
mainly of French extraction, calling for a meeting at 
St. Edouard, to discuss the question of annexation. ^ An 
invitation was extended to Papineau, Holmes, De Witt, 
and other leading Annexationists of Montreal, as also 
to Dr. Savageau, the local Liberal member, to be 
present, and take part in the proceedings. Notwith- 
standing the active opposition of several of the local 
French clergy, who solemnly warned their congrega- 
tions from the pulpit against having anything to do 
with the annexation movement, a large audience of 
about five hundred persons responded to the call. 
Letters were read from Messrs. Papineau, Papin, and 
others expressing their regret at being unable to attend. 

In his communication, Papineau declared that at 
first the Government was of the opinion that the 
manifesto was a passing ebullition of a small minority 
of the citizens of Montreal, and that the movement 
could be easily snuffed out by the use of the preroga- 
tive ; but the Ministry had since had occasion to 
modify that opinion. The manifesto was not a mere 
temporary outburst of feeling, but an expression of the 
sober second thought of the general public. The 
movement was no longer confined to Montreal and some 
of the Eastern Counties, but was rapidly winning its 
way throughout the whole province. Not only had 
a majority of the Montreal papers come out in favour 
of annexation, but the circulation of these papers had 
greatly increased at the expense of the ministerial 
press. He was especially pleased at the demand for 
annexation from his British fellow citizens, since their 
influence would have more weight with the English 
Government than the petitions and protests of an equal 
number of French-Canadians. The overwhelming 
strength of the Ministry in the Legislature was no 
criterion of their strength at the polls, and he was con- 
vinced that at the next election a majority of the 
^ January 28, 1850. 

204 The Movement in Lower Canada 

electorate in both Upper and Lower Canada would 
declare for annexation. The recent addresses of their 
French compatriots in the United States afforded them 
the most convincing proof of the commercial advan- 
tages of annexation. Their fellow countrymen had 
prospered under the free institutions of the great 
republic, and why should they not share in the same 
advantages, when they were invited so to do by their 
own brethren ? The earnest appeals and representa- 
tions of their compatriots could not fail to carry con- 
viction to any honest heart. 

Now was the time, he concluded, to press forward 
the demand for separation, since the greater part of 
the English press sympathized with the aspirations of 
the colonies for independence. The reply of Mr. Papin 
admirably epitomized the ideals of the Rouge Party 
in regard to annexation. The cause of annexation, he 
declared in an outburst of republican enthusiasm, " is 
none other than the cause of progress, civilization, 
education, democracy, and liberty." 

The meeting was one of the most successful in the 
Eastern Townships in respect to both numbers and 
enthusiasm. Several of the leading local magistrates 
and officers of militia occupied seats upon the platform, 
and the speeches of the representatives of both nation- 
alities were of an unusually high order.' Mr. Lanctot, 
an exile of 1837, stated that, although he had always 
believed that annexation would be advantageous to 
Canada, and that the sooner it was accomplished the 
better it would be for her, nevertheless declared that, 
if it should require force for its attainment, he would 
be one of the first to oppose it. He was convinced, 
however, that forcible measures would be unnecessary ; 
for, now that the English people had attained the boon 
of free trade, they would the more readily grant 
liberty and independence to the colonies. 

The speech of Mr. Dorion set forth in glowing colours 
the contrast between the political and commercial 

1 Messrs. Jones and De Witt were the chief English speakers. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 205 

advantages of annexation on the one hand and the 
degradation of the colonial status on the other. The 
Act of Union had inflicted a heavy civil list upon the 
province, altogether out of proportion to the adminis- 
trative expenses of the American states. He con- 
demned the colonial principle of a nominated English 
Governor, as incompatible with the democratic spirit 
of the time. Since the loss of the colonial preference, 
there were no longer commercial reasons for main- 
taining the imperial connection. The superior trans- 
portation facilities of the United States placed the 
Canadian producers at a decided disadvantage in com- 
peting in the English market. The farmers of the 
province were now forced to seek in the United States 
a new market for their products ; but unfortunately 
that market was closed by a high tariff wall, and the 
recent message of the President had recommended that 
the duties on agricultural products should be still 
further increased. Annexation alone would ensure to 
them an open market, and a higher price for their pro- 
ducts. But there was a further reason of a religious 
character for desiring annexation. The system of eccle- 
siastical tithes was subjected to especial criticism. 

So long as Canada maintained her colonial status, 
there was no hope, Mr. Dorion concluded, of securing 
the abolition of that unjust burden upon the piety of 
the people, or of obtaining the redress of their many 
other grievances of a similar character. The attack 
upon the clergy was carried even further by the 
following speaker, Mr. Lanctot of Laprairie. The 
habitants, he asserted, were suffering from the burden 
of tithes, the oppression of the seignorial system, and 
the woeful lack of educational facilities. They were in 
a humiliating state of backwardness as compared with 
their American neighbours. 

To the minds of the young French Radicals the only 
hope of freeing their countrymen from the ascendency 
of the Church lay in annexation to the United States. 
The progressive democracy of the great republic had 

206 The Movement in Lower Canada 

freed their fellow countrymen who had taken up their 
residence across the lines, and it was believed that 
those same influences would sweep away the anachron- 
ism of a religious establishment and an European feudal 
system, which still lingered on in Quebec. 

Notwithstanding the opposition of M. Caisse, cure of 
St. Jacques le Mineur, and a couple of his friends, the 
several resolutions were carried by overwhelming 
majorities, not more than a dozen voting against them. 
The resolutions embodied an interesting combination 
of the principles of the manifesto and the tenets of the 
Rouge Party.' To the customary articles deploring 
the serious condition of the country, commending the 
Montreal address, censuring the action of the Ministry 
in dismissing the annexation officials, and appealing 
for a generous union of the English and French popu- 
lations to promote their common interests, there were 
added several new resolutions of different tenor, ex- 
pressing approval of the great moral benefits which 
would result from elective institutions, demanding the 
abolition of the tithing system and seignorial tenure, 
and calling for the payment of jurors. Pleasure was 
expressed that Mr. Savageau had not signed the 
Legislative protest against annexation. He was re- 
quested, however, to make known his views upon the 
question, and in case his opinion was imfavourable, to 
hand in his resignation. 

The temerity of the Annexationists, in calling upon 
the local member to declare for annexation, roused 
the loyalists of the Riding to action. An address to 
Mr, Savageau was drawn up, and signed by over 1,200 
persons, including many of the magistrates, militia 
officers, and other prominent citizens of the county, 
stating that as, in their judgment, the great majority of 
the electors were opposed to annexation, they sincerely 
hoped that he would not comply with the demand of 
the Annexationists, but would retain his seat. In 
conclusion, they protested strongly against the in- 

1 January 28, 1850. 

The Movement in Lower Canada 207 

temperate and inconsiderate agitation of the Annexa- 
tionists. Mr. Savageau declared in reply that the 
address was the best proof that the country was 
opposed to annexation. 

It was most inopportune, in his opinion, to start 
their agitation at the very moment when England had 
handed over to them the management of their own 
affairs. They should seek to perfect the existing Con- 
stitution, rather than to agitate for the uncertain 
advantage of a political union with the United States. 
Moreover, the attitude of the English Government was 
not such as to warrant the pretension that the colonies 
would be willingly surrendered. The only effect of con- 
tinuing the agitation would be to create a division in the 
ranks of the Liberal Party, before their political leaders 
had had an opportunity of giving the new Constitu- 
tion a fair trial. The commercial outlook of the 
province was growing brighter. A reciprocity agree- 
ment for the admission of Canadian products into the 
United States would soon be secured, and the repeal of 
the Navigation Laws would further tend to stimulate 
trade. The remaining social and political advantages 
which the Annexationists held out could be secured 
equally well by Canadian efforts and through their own 
institutions. The primary duty of the moment was 
to rid the country of some of the existing burdens and 
difficulties ; then perhaps at some future time, when 
the colony had developed into a mighty state, some of 
the advantages of annexation which were not to be 
found in the existing circumstances might be made 

» La Minerve, February 25, 1850. 



Loyal address in Toronto — Letter of Mr. W. H. Boulton, M.P., 
— Revision of address — Attitude of the Tory press, The Patriot 
and The Colonist — The Reform press, The Globe and The Ex- 
aminer — The Annexation papers. The Mirror and The Inde- 
pendent — The Church — Resolution of York Reformers — The 
Hamilton journals — Opinion in Niagara peninsula — Demon- 
stration of loyalists in London— Public sentiment in the Western 
Districts — Attacks of Reform journals on loyalty of Tories — 
Feeling in the Midland District — Loyal demonstrations at 
Cobourg and Belleville — The Kingston press — Opinion in the 
Eastern District — The Bytown papers — Annexation views of 
Prescott Telegraph — Negociations of British American League 
for federal union — Conference with the Colonial Association 
of New Brunswick — ^Convention of League at Toronto — 
Debates on federal union and elective legislative council — 
Debate on annexation — Resolution against annexation — 
Appeal to Annexationists — Reply of John Redpath — Dis- 
avowal of annexation by the League — The Clear Grits — 
Principles of the party — Clergy reserves — Attacks on Ministry 
by Clear Grit press— Election in third Riding of York— Annexa- 
tionist tendencies of Peter Perry — Opposition of The Globe 
and loyal Reformers— Election of Perry — Elation of Clear 
Grits, Tories, and Annexationists — Critical position of Clear 
Grit Party— Letters of William Lyon Mackenzie — Cessation of 
agitation among Clear Grits. 

IN Upper Canada, the manifesto awakened the 
keenest interest, but met with almost universal 
condemnation ; only here and there were found 
a few disaffected spirits bold enough publicly to 
defend or avow its principles. Upon receipt of the 
address in Toronto, the loyalists of the city at once 
took steps to repudiate any S3anpathy with the an- 
nexation movement. Some such action, it was felt, 
would be highly desirable in view of the false con- 


The Movement in Upper Canada 209 

ceptions which unfortunately had won general accep- 
tance in both England and the United States, that 
the Canadian people were ready for annexation. As the 
prevalence of this misconception was impairing the 
credit of the country, there was the greater reason for 
presenting to the world the clearest evidence of the 
weakness of annexation sentiment, and the strength of 
loyalist feeling in the commercial centre of Upper 
Canada. A requisition for a public meeting in support 
of the British connection was quickly circulated, and 
signed by a large number of citizens.* At a small 
private caucus, attended by leading members of both 
political parties, a declaration of protest against 
annexation was drawn up and adopted, and a com- 
mittee appointed to secure signatures to the same.* 
The declaration ran as follows : 

" We, the undersigned inhabitants of the City of 
Toronto and the Home District, having learned from 
the public press that a document has been circulated 
for signatures in the City of Montreal advocating the 
annexation of Her Majesty's Province of Canada to 
a foreign state, desire, without reference to local or 
provincial politics, to record our solemn protest against 
any such proceeding — to deny emphatically the truth 
of many of the statements on which that document is 
based, especially that which asserts the general de- 
pression of the province, which we believe to be grossly 
exaggerated, if not exclusively applicable to Montreal 
— to declare our unwavering attachment to our con- 
nection with Great Britain — the high value we place 
upon our position as British subjects, and our firm 
determination to resist all attempts at trifling with our 
allegiance, or transferring us from the mild and just 
rule of our Gracious Sovereign to the United States of 
America or any other foreign state." 

When the committee began to circulate this petition, 

1 The Globe, October i6, 1849. 

" Mr. W. B. Jar vis was chairman and A. Morrison secretary of 
the meeting. 


210 The Movement in Upper Canada 

they at once experienced difficulty in securing signa- 
tures, owing to the objection of many of the citizens 
to those clauses of the address which minimized the 
existence of widespread commercial depression, and 
praised the just and beneficent character of English 
rule. Many staunch supporters of the British con- 
nection, especially among the Conservatives, absolutely 
refused to sign the declaration in that form, while others 
attached their signatures under protest, and only for 
the purpose of asserting their loyalty. 

Prominent among those who refused to sign the 
address, on account of its objectionable language, was 
the local Conservative member, Mr. W. H. Boulton. 
As soon as his decision became known, he was immedi- 
ately called upon by four of his most prominent 
constituents, including J. Hillyard Cameron and 
J. Hagarty, to make a public statement of his views 
on annexation. In complying with this request, Mr. 
Boulton explained that his attitude was due solely to 
his objection to the phrasing of the address, and not 
to its object. He " utterly condemned " the course of 
the Montreal Annexationists, and proclaimed his " un- 
swerving attachment to the British connection." But, 
nevertheless, he proceeded to attack the fiscal policy of 
Great Britain, which was responsible for the existing 
depression, because it placed the agriculturists of 
Canada at a serious disadvantage in competing with 
their American neighbours. There were, in his opinion, 
but three possible remedies for the country's ills : first, 
reciprocal free trade with the United States ; second, 
a protective tariff ; third, the abolition of all import 
duties and shipping charges. The last of these three 
policies would, he believed, prove most advantageous 
to the interests of Canada.* 

To meet these objections to the form of the declara- 
tion, another meeting of the committee was called, at 
which it was determined to issue a revised address, 
which would, it was hoped, prove acceptable to the 

» The Colonist, October 26, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 211 

whole body of loyalists. The amended address read as 
follows : ' 

" We, the undersigned inhabitants of the City of 
Toronto and the Home District, in allegiance to Her 
Majesty, Queen Victoria, do hereby solemnly protest 
against a movement recently made in the City of 
Montreal, for the annexation of the province to the 
United States of America. 

" However great may have been the depression, 
commercial or otherwise, under which the province 
has laboured, and however much mistaken or injurious 
the policy and conduct which the mother country has 
pursued toward us, we still unhesitatingly declare that 
there is nothing in what has occurred, or now exists, 
to warrant an attempt so revolutionary in its character, 
and so repugnant to our feelings, as that which seeks 
the dismemberment of the glorious empire of Great 
Britain, by transferring this colony to a foreign power. 

" Confident in our resources and energies, and still 
relying on the will and ability of England to do us 
justice, we have no desire to seek any remedy for 
political or commercial evils by other than constitu- 
tional means." 

The judgment of the committee was confirmed by 
the hearty enthusiasm with which all classes of citizens 
came forward to sign the new declaration, copies of 
which were placed in the banks and prominent business- 
houses, for public subscription. Liberals and Conserva- 
tives joined hands in the common cause, notwithstand- 
ing the efforts of a section of the ultra-Conservatives 
to prevent united action. At the head of the list were 
enrolled the names of the chief municipal officials, the 
local parliamentary representatives, the members of 
the judiciary, and the most prominent merchants and 
professional men of the City. In the list of signatures 
are to be found the names of the Hon. Robert Baldwin, 
Chief Justice Robinson, Mr. Justice Sullivan, the 
Hon. Chancellors Blake and Jamieson, three members 
* The Colonist, October 30, 1849. 

212 The Movement in Upper Canada 

of the Legislative Council, Gordon, Allan, and Widmer, 
and four of the Lower Chamber, John H. Cameron, 
W. B. Robinson, Henry Sherwood, and J. C. Morrison. 
So great was the zeal of the committee, that several 
of the members put aside their private business in 
order to attend to the matter in hand. Signatures 
poured in rapidly.^ At the end of the first day, 500 
names were appended ; on October 25, 1,500 were 
reported ; by November 13, the number had risen 
to 3,600 ; and by the 20th of the month, a grand total 
of 4,447 was attained.* The verdict of Toronto was 
clear and overwhelming in its repudiation of annexa- 

The majority of the city papers were equally emphatic 
in condemning the action of the Montreal malcontents. 
Although strongly holding to the view that the mal- 
administration of the Government was responsible for 
the growth of annexation sentiment. The Patriot 
warned its readers against encouraging the movement 
in any way.' Annexation, it contended, would not save 
the people of the province from the evils of low prices, 
French domination and Liberal tyranny. It called 
upon all branches of the League in Upper Canada to 
take prompt action to prevent the spread of the 
agitation. They should not allow their disgust with 
the Baldwin Ministry to lead them into an attitude of 
hostility to the British connection. There was the 
greater reason for maintaining their loyalty, since the 
English Government had repeatedly asserted that, so 
far from desiring to cast of^ the colonies, it was most 
anxious to retain them. It was the duty of the Tory 

» The Patriot declared, however, that it could only account for 
the slowness with which signatures were received by the fact " that 
it is difficult to induce men to tolerate as allies those whose past 
actions and principles they hold in abhorrence." It was of the 
opinion that a separate party declaration should have been made 
by the Tories. 

" The first sheet of 200 names was stolen. 

3 The Patriot of October 12, 1849, contained a very uncomph- 
mentary article on the condition of Canada as compared with the 
United States. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 213 

Party to stand fast to its political principles, until they 
were vindicated at the next general elections, for there 
was little doubt that the disgusted public would take 
the first opportunity of hurling the existing adminis- 
tration from office, and of restoring to power those 
leaders who were truly representative of loyal British 

In a subsequent editorial it discussed at length the 
various arguments of the Montreal manifesto. The 
manufacturing interests of the province, it contended, 
could be promoted as well by a Canadian as by an 
American protective tariff. It further maintained that 
the rapid increase of the public debts and expenditures 
of the United States would involve a heavier burden of 
taxation on the people of Canada in case of union ; 
that the American judiciary and magistracy were both 
poorly paid and inefficient ; that the price of food- 
stuffs was fixed by English quotations, and was not 
dependent on the American market ; that by means 
of the bonding privilege the farmers and merchants of 
Canada were placed upon an equality with their 
neighbours across the line ; that agriculture in Upper 
Canada was superior to that of any part of the United 
States ; that American capital was so fully employed 
in American industries that it would not seek invest- 
ment away from home ; that the slavery issue would 
inevitably disrupt the American union ; that the 
general moral tone of society in the United States was 
greatly inferior to that in Canada ; and finally, that the 
proceedings of Congress were no less disgraceful than 
those of the Provincial Legislature.^ 

The Colonist greeted the Montreal manifesto with a 
cry of anguish : " The discussion of annexation is worm- 
wood and gall to us." Montreal, it asserted, was not 
the Paris of Canada, and could not dictate the political 
feeling of the country ; she had yet to convert the 
people of Upper Canada to the new political faith. 
Neither should she forget that, although the minds of 

* The Patriot, January 19, 1850. 

214 The Movement in Upper Canada 

the public might be won by reason, they would never 
be changed by violence. Montreal, it averred, was 
subject to great fluctuations of opinion, of which the 
manifesto was only a fleeting and whimsical expression ; 
in time the old feeling of loyalty would again return 
with full force. But The Colonist soon recovered its 
mental equilibrium, and prepared to consider the 
address in a fair and reasonable manner. The mani- 
festo, it assured its readers, " will perhaps prove after 
all not so terrible an affair as it seems at first. But 
no acquaintance can reconcile us to the deformity of 
some of its features." The address, it continued, " is 
not consistent with itself, though it may suit well the 
heterogeneous catalogue of signatures appended. It 
contains statements irrefragably true, mixed with others 
wildly erroneous, and the latter kind we believe largely 
to predominate. There seems to be so much variety 
in the reasoning, as if it were to give to every signer 
the chance of a consistent ground for his consent. 
The main facts to be gathered from the proceeding 
are that Montreal is suffering in all its interests an 
unparalleled and hopeless depression such as to make 
almost desperate chances desirable ; and that endur- 
ance has disappeared, since loyalty, its best support, 
was so roughly handled of late. ' ' Much of the reasoning 
of the manifesto was, The Colonist contended, not only 
inconsequential, but implied a precipitation of passion 
which was far removed from the annexationist pro- 
fessions of equanimity and goodwill. But the public 
would not be deceived by mere verbal representations, 
when the actions of the Annexationists were so much at 
variance with their peaceful protestations.* The mani- 
festo had undoubtedly awakened much excitement 
among all classes of the population ; but, according to 
present appearances, it would not gain much support 
among the people of Upper Canada ; for, in the judg- 
ment of the latter, " the remedy is far worse than the 

* Th$ Colonist, October i6, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 215 

Towards the signers of the address, The Colonist 
urged that only the most temperate language should 
be used, since in the existing intensity of feeling any 
undue excess of passion would promote, rather than 
check, the spread of the annexation movement.' The 
folly of the Montreal agitators might in the end prove 
beneficial to the country in more than one way, es- 
pecially by revealing to the Canadian people the real 
identity of the policies of independence and annexa- 
tion, and by arousing the people of England to a realiza- 
tion of the danger of the Whig policy of dismembering 
the empire. Under the guise of granting independence 
to this colony, the Cobdenites were, in fact, handing it 
over to the United States.* 

The appearance of the manifesto aroused the fighting 
spirit of The Globe. It was not content to oppose the 
annexation movement by merely defensive measures, 
such as the organization of protest demonstrations, 
and the adoption of resolutions of loyalty ; it called 
upon the Government to dismiss peremptorily every 
official, Reform or Tory, who had signed the Montreal 
address.' But it did not rely on coercion alone to stop 
the movement ; for, at the same time, it appealed to 
the judgment of the public by publishing a series of 
articles dealing seriatim with the claims and preten- 
sions of the Annexationists. 

It appealed to the chivalry of the Canadian people ; 
it pleaded with them not to be guilty of the base in- 
gratitude of demanding separation at the very moment 
when England had so generously granted to the colony 

1 The Colonist, October 23, 1849. 

' At the same time there was running in The Colonist a series of 
articles by " Agricola " strongly supporting a protective policy, 
and warning the people against annexation. There seemed in the 
opinion of tlie writer " to be little self-reliance amongst the advocates 
of annexation ; having lost their old nurse, they would fain have 
the leading-strings handed over to the United States." Annexatioa 
and reciprocity would merely open the Canadian market for Ameri- 
can exploitation. Canada, he concluded, should develop an inde- 
pendent fiscal poUcy of her own, 

' The Globe, October 20, 1849. 

216 The Movement in Upper Canada 

the most liberal form of government ; it denied in 
toto " that there are in this country any symptoms of 
rapid decay, or of slow decay either, except in Montreal, 
or that the withdrawal of protection by the home 
Government, accompanied as it has been by complete 
commercial freedom, is at all likely to be permanently 
injurious to us " ; it refuted the allegations with regard 
to the financial embarrassment of the Provincial Govern- 
ment and the various civic corporations. The de- 
pression in Montreal, it contended, was local, the result 
of changing economic conditions, by which that city 
was losing its grip upon the import and wholesale trade 
of the province. It specifically denied that the real 
estate market in Canada was worse than in the simi- 
larly situated, newly developed regions of the United 
States, or that the circulating capital of the country 
was becoming less, or that the banks were not in a 
sound and prosperous condition ; it claimed, on the 
contrary, that the credit of the Canadian Government 
was superior to that of the American States, as was 
evidenced by a lower rate of interest upon its funded 

It ardently maintained that, since 1783, Great 
Britain had done more for the civilization of the world 
than the boastful democracy of the United States, and 
it denounced the p)olicy of the latter in abetting the 
slave trade at the very time when England was exerting 
all her energies to suppress the iniquitous traffic in 
human souls. It countered the contention that Canada 
was devoid of manufacturing industries, by pointing 
out that the absence of manufacturing was due to the 
more profitable employment of capital in agricultural 
and other pursuits ; a similar deficiency of railroads 
in Canada, as compared with the United States, was 
due to the superior means of water transportation 
which Providence had bestowed upon the province. 
It questioned the validity of the argument that a free 
entry into the American market was essential to the 
prosperity of the Canadian farmer, since the price of 

The Movement in Upper Canada 217 

agricultural products, especially corn, was determined 
for the agriculturists of both countries by the quota- 
tions of the English market. 

But no part of the argument of The Globe was so 
skilfully handled as its reply to the favourite conten- 
tion of the Annexationists, viz. that the colonies could 
not permanently remain under the British flag. The 
grant of colonial autonomy, it pointed out, had effected 
a political and constitutional revolution in the organiza- 
tion of the empire by which Canada and the other 
self-governing colonies would be enabled to work out 
their own political destinies within the empire, as 
integral and independent members of the group of 
sister federated states. In short, on political, ethical, 
and economicgrounds, annexation would prove injurious 
to the best interests of Canada.' 

In a critical view of the political situation, The 
Examiner stated that the most striking effect of the 
manifesto upon the public mind was the absence of the 
usual violence of temper with which the question had 
been previously discussed. This spirit of moderation 
was undoubtedly due, in part, to the temperate tone of 
the manifesto, which avoided an appeal to the passions 
of any section of the public. Notwithstanding the 
efforts of Baldwin to stop the spread of annexation 
sentiment within the Reform Party, the movement 
threatened to disrupt existing party ties, and might 
even lead to a fusion or recasting of the various political 
factions throughout the province, such as had appar- 
ently taken place in Montreal, where the force of 
annexation sentiment had proved sufficiently powerful 
to triumph over the blind passions and the partisan 
and racial rivalries which had distracted the inhabi- 
tants of that city for many years past. It was a difficult 
matter for the Government to deal with the agitation. 
The Annexationists had appealed to reason and not to 

^ The Globe, October 20, 23, 24, etc., 1849. On November 17 The 
Globe contained a satirical parallel between the American Declaration 
of Independence and the manifesto of " John Redpath & Co." 

218 The Movement in Upper Canada 

force ; they could not be cast into prison, nor be denied 
the constitutional right of petition. The suggested 
dismissal of all annexation officials, however much 
deserved, would not prevent the spread of annexation 
views ; it might, on the contrary, promote the very 
object it was designed to checkmate, by arousing a 
feeling of sympathy towards the victims of the Govern- 
ment's displeasure. 

As a public document, the manifesto, in the opinion 
of The Examiner, was open to grave criticism. It did 
not cover the whole case. " It was a programme 
rather than an argument." The assumed advantages 
of annexation were drawn in glowing colours, but no 
attempt was made to develop a plan of separation. 
The moment that this was attempted, great practical 
difficulties would be discovered. The English Govern- 
ment could not deal with a petition of a minority 
without violating constitutional principles. The An- 
nexationists could not make any real advance, until 
they had converted the majority of the Canadian 
electorate to their opinion. And, even in the latter 
case, the difficulties of the Annexationists might be 
more serious than ever ; for if England should refuse 
to accede to the demand for separation, which was 
not improbable, a continuance of the agitation would 
inevitably lead to a political revolution. 

Nor had the Annexationists afforded any information 
in regard to the terms on which separation should take 
place. For example, what arrangements were to be 
made in regard to the imperial guarantee of the pro- 
vincial debt, the Crown lands of the province, the 
surrender of the right of fiscal legislation, and the 
repayment of the expenditures of the British Govern- 
ment upon the public works of the province ? To the 
commercial and material conditions of the colony was 
traceable " the accelerating causes and the continuance 
of the annexation movement." An outburst of dis- 
appointed partisan passion had awakened the agita- 
tion ; " the continued denial of reciprocity by the 

The Movement in Upper Canada 219 

Americans was likely to keep it alive." The primary 
question of the day was how to secure reciprocity in 
the face of the selfish policy of the United States. If 
it could not be won by persuasion, it might possibly 
be obtained by coercion, by inducing the British 
Government to place countervailing duties on American 
products equal to those which the United States im- 
posed on Canadian produce.* 

In reviewing the situation one week later. The 
Examiner declared that the annexation movement was 
making no perceptible progress. The Montreal mani- 
festo had met with greater condemnation than praise ; 
the onslaught upon it had been vigorous, the defence 
but feeble. It was evident that annexation feeling 
was but half formed, and needed time to gain strength 
and marshal its forces. In Upper Canada, it was " as 
yet without courage to give it voice and utterance " ; 
it was timid and non-committal, or covered itself under 
a simulated reverence for the motherland. On the 
other hand, the loyalists, according to The Examiner, 
expressed a more ardent affection for the Crown than 
they really " believed or felt." 

The Montreal manifesto, by reducing the question 
of annexation to a mere matter of dollars and cents, and 
by appealing to no higher passion than self-interest, 
was not calculated to produce an electrical effect. It 
came as a surprise to the public ; and, as a result, 
awakened a bewildering medley of curiosity and ex- 
citement. The proposal was too far-reaching to be 
quickly or readily understood. The convictions of the 
people could not be changed in a day ; nor would their 
ancient loyalty yield to anything short of overwhelming 
argument. " The manifesto proved nothing, changed 
nothing ; all it did was to open the question, and this 
it did unskilfully. It made no converts. It brought 
out parties who were already convinced, and thus 
formed the nucleus of a party." Moreover, the 
Canadian public should not forget that political con- 

* Th» Examiner, October 24, 1849, 

220 The Movement in Upper Canada 

ditions in the United States " would tend to keep the 
question of annexation of any more territory. North 
or South, in abeyance for some time," since any 
attempt to bring about the annexation of Canada 
would disturb the balance of power in Congress, and 
stir up the slave-holding states to demand a dissolution 
of the Union. 

The state of English public opinion was likewise 
uncertain. Some definite knowledge of British senti- 
ment was a necessary condition precedent to an in- 
telligent discussion of the complicated issues involved 
in a change of allegiance ; but, as yet, neither the 
Cabinet nor the press had expressed an opinion on the 
question of separation or annexation ; and until some 
official statement was forthcoming as to the attitude 
of the Government, it was premature and foolish for 
the Annexationists or the public to seek to determine 
the political future of the colony. The provincial 
Government was placed in a delicate situation. A 
sentiment favourable to annexation was spreading 
throughout the province in spite of the measures of 
the Government, but The Examiner was firmly con- 
vinced that the adoption of a wise and well-considered 
commercial policy " would do much to calm the 
storm." ' 

The Minor, a Radical Irish Catholic organ, greeted 
the manifesto with cordial interest. It boasted that it 
was the first journal in Canada honest enough to 
announce that the annexation movement was a fact, not 
a mere speculation. The agitation could no longer be 
laughed at. " It was a fine and natural expression of 
a great national want. It was a demand of men who 
feel their own capabilities and their own disadvantages, 
and who dare claim the right of exerting the former 
and ridding themselves of the latter." It ridiculed 
the co-operation of The Globe and the Hon. H, Sher- 
wood, a local Tory leader, in working up sentiment 
against annexation. It was, indeed, unfortunate for 

The Examiner, December 26, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 221 

the British connection that its continuance should be 
jeopardized by the support of such friends. One-half 
of the first two dozen signers of the Toronto protest 
were overpaid officials, whose patriotism was measured 
by their pockets, and who dreaded the effect of an- 
nexation upon their salaries. The Montreal Tory 
Annexationists, it continued, would now have an 
opportunity of testing the sincerity of their Western 
allies. The former were men of progress, but they 
never made a more fatal error than when they united 
with the Upper Canada Tories. The latter merely 
" spouted annexation to frighten the English Ministry 
and Parliament ; the former thought the matter 
out." 1 

Towards the English nation. The Mirror adopted 
the bitter and hostile tone of the Fenian press. It 
countered the anti-slavery arguments of the Reform 
papers by the bold declaration that the position of the 
Southern negro under the American flag was preferable 
to that of the Irish subject under the curse of English 
rule. The Mirror, however, showed a decided penchant 
for the independence of Canada, in preference to 
annexation. "For our part we can see nothing at 
all to be boasted of in our beggarly connection 
with Great Britain. On the contrary we see much in 
it of which we are heartily ashamed ; we had rather 
see our country the humblest independent state in 
Christendom, than the liveried lackey of the greatest 
empire on earth. We feel too proud of Canada to hold 
her as the dependent of any nation. For this reason, 
we feel some repugnance even to annexation, which 
savours somewhat of a state of vassalage." * It pre- 
dicted, however, that annexation would come in due 
time, but it questioned the wisdom of the Annexation- 
ists in endeavouring unduly to hasten the day of 

The Independent, as was to be expected, greeted the 

1 The Mirror, October 19, 1849. 

2 Ibid.f November 2, 1849. 

222 The Movement in Upper Canada 

manifesto with the heartiest approval. Notwithstand- 
ing the apparently hostile attitude of the people of 
Canada West, it believed that at heart there was a 
widespread sympathy with annexation. The tone of 
the press of Upper Canada would doubtless disappoint 
the expectations of the Eastern Annexationists, but the 
latter should remember that the condition of affairs in 
the two sections of the province were quite dissimilar. 
In Lower Canada, the evils of the colonial regime had 
been most quickly and severely felt ; and, as a natural 
consequence, had produced an independence and ag- 
gressiveness of opinion, and a fusion of political parties 
far in advance of anything to be found as yet in the 
more backward districts of Canada West. The oppo- 
sition to annexation in Upper Canada arose primarily 
out of the peculiar position of the political parties, 
rather than from a desire to perpetuate the imperial 
bond beyond the time when it would be to the interest 
of the colonies to sever it. 

Unfortunately for the province, the press of the 
Western District implicitly followed the behests of the 
party leaders ; only The Examiner and The Mirror, 
particularly the latter, had evidenced a spirit of 
political independence in the matter. But, notwith- 
standing the timidity of the press, a majority of the 
people of the West, it claimed, were friendly to annexa- 
tion, provided it could be brought about with the 
approval and goodwill of England. Two- thirds of the 
old Reform Party were Annexationists at heart, though 
they did not care to avow it openly as yet.' In Bald- 
win's own Riding, a careful canvass of the electors had 
revealed that at least one-half of the voters, including 
all of the men of importance, were favourable to 
annexation. In the ranks of the Tory Party, many 
Annexationists were to be found, and the number was 
rapidly increasing. The Canadian-born Tories frankly 
admitted that annexation was necessary to save the 
country from economic ruin, but the majority of them 

* The Independent, November 2, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 223 

preferred to wait a while before taking any overt 
action. Throughout the Western peninsula, The Inde- 
pendent concluded, " a good half of the population were 
Annexationists," and a part of the remainder were at 
least favourable.* Taking it all in all, the situation in 
Upper Canada was most encouraging. 

As an offset to the revolutionary teaching of The 
Independent, the Church revived the Laudian doctrine 
of indefeasible allegiance. In a spirit of loyalty, worthy 
of the most sycophantic ecclesiastic of the days of the 
Stuarts, it declared that the object of the manifesto 
" could not be carried into effect without going into 
opposition to the plainest and most solemn declarations 
of the revealed word of God." But, however accept- 
able such tenets might be to the High Church Tories, 
they only served to awaken the scorn and ridicule of 
the Reform press, and to drive the Clear Grit Party 
further in the direction of the United States. 

The Liberal yeomen of York were not far behind the 
citizens of Toronto in asserting their loyalty to the 
British flag, though, unfortunately, they gave their 
declarations a distinctly partisan character. At a 
meeting of the Reformers of the Riding, an address to 
the Hon. James Price, the local member, was unani- 
mously adopted, requesting him, in view of the dan- 
gerous complications of the time, to reconsider his 
intention of withdrawing from public life. One of the 
paragraphs of the address bitterly arraigned the policy 
of the Tory Party, " who do not scruple in the violence 
of their attacks to talk of separation, annexation, 
and other Utopian and treasonable schemes, with the 
insidious design of entrapping the Reformers with the 
bait, and detaching from the ranks of the Liberal Party 
a sufficient number of supporters to ensure their 
downfall." * Shortly after, at a great Reform meeting 
at Sharon, a resolution was adopted, " That this 
meeting has no sympathy with those designing men 

^ Quoted from L'Avenir, December 21, 1849. 
* The Globe, October 18, 1849. 

224 The Movement in Upper Canada 

who, after committing acts which we shudder to record, 
now adopt schemes of sedition and of separation from 
that country, which they have long affected to revere ; 
and this meeting hopes that all friends of good reform 
will keep away from such individuals." At the same 
time a resolution was agreed to in favour of reciprocal 
free trade with the United States. 

In the Hamilton and Niagara Districts, public senti- 
ment, though deeply tinged by party politics, ran 
strongly against annexation. According to report, an 
annexation association was formed in Hamilton, but 
it kept its light very carefully concealed under a 
bushel. No record of its proceedings was ever given 
to the public ; nor does it appear to have taken any 
active part in working up annexation sentiment in the 
community. That such a sentiment existed in certain 
quarters was unquestioned ; but, with one exception, 
it found little sympathy in the press of the district. 
The Journal and Express, a Clear Grit paper, opened 
its columns to the discussion of the question, but the 
editor carefully refrained from lending any countenance 
to the movement in the editorial page. According to 
The Hamilton Spectator, many causes had contributed 
to the movement ; but first among these stand mis- 
govemment, extravagance, and the holding out of a 
premium to rebellion." ' 

Lord Elgin, it declared, had done more to alienate 
the loyalty of the country than all the agitation of the 
Annexationists. The movement had suddenly arisen in 
Montreal out of contempt for his person and policy, 
and not from any general feeling of discontent with the 
British connection. Although the people of Upper 
Canada deeply sympathized with the citizens of 
Montreal, they could not join with them in seeking to 
dismember the empire. They preferred to remonstrate 
against the misrule of " the Grey family compact," 
rather than to threaten the motherland with separa- 
tion. "The proceedings in Montreal, if persevered in, 

* The meeting was presided over by Captain Irving, M.L.C. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 225 

can only end in defeat, disgrace, and ruin. . . . From 
Upper Canada the agitation will meet with stem, 
uncompromising opposition." Instead of securing 
admittance into the American Union, the Montreal 
Annexationists might only succeed in repealing the Act 
of Union ; for, rather than be forced into a political 
union with the United States, the people of Canada 
West would join hands to bring about a division of the 
province, and the Montreal agitators would then find 
themselves worse off than before — a miserable minority 
at the mercy of an overwhelming majority. 

A city contemporary. The Spirit of the Age, came out 
strongly in favour of separation. " Travellers from 
Europe have generally remarked on the backwardness 
observed in the British provinces as compared with the 
adjoining states of the Union. The people of Canada 
are fully impressed with the fact that such is the case 
to a large extent. A spirit of inquiry, however, is 
abroad as to the causes which keep us so far in the 
rear in the onward march of improvement. The 
trammels of prejudice and fashion no longer reign 
supreme in the Canadian mind. Men are beginning to 
perceive that their vital interests must not be sacrificed 
at the shrine of party, or for the sake of a fanciful or 
exploded theory. Whatever others may think, we are 
of the opinion that a dependent position holds out but 
poor inducements to enterprise, or the practice of self- 
reliance." ^ 

Both the Gore and Niagara District Councils unani- 
mously adopted resolutions condemning the Montreal 
manifesto, and pledging their fealty to the Crown. 
The resolution of the latter body went on to declare 
that they were ready by all means in their power "to 
suppress any attempt at separation, no matter from 
what source it might originate." * In the town of 
Niagara, a loyal address was drawn up, and signed by 
upwards of 200 inhabitants, including W. H. Dickson, 

Quoted from The Examiner, October 17, 1849. 
The Globe, November 17, 1849. 


226 The Movement in Upper Canada 

the local Reform member, the District Judge and 
Sheriff and chief local officials, protesting against the 
manifesto, professing their attachment to British in- 
stitutions, and appealing to the public to do every- 
thing possible to allay the agitation. Only a small 
group of American citizens and a few headstrong 
Tories declined to sign the address.^ The Grimsby 
branch of the League joined in the chorus of censure.* 
Lord Elgin, who was making a tour of the district at 
the time, paid a just tribute to the self-sacrificing 
loyalty of the inhabitants in making the protest. 
" They have done so," he declared, in a letter to the 
Colonial Secretary, " (and many other District Councils 
in Upper Canada have done the same), under the im- 
pression that it would be base to declare against 
England at the moment she has given a signal proof of 
her determination to concede constitutional govern- 
ment in all its plenitude to Canada. I am confident, 
however, that the large majority of persons who have 
thus protested firmly believe that their annexation to 
the United States would add one-fourth to the value 
of the produce of their farms."' 

The St. Catharine's Journal,* the organ of Hamilton 
Merritt, frankly admitted that many of the allegations 
of the manifesto in regard to the depression of Canadian 
trade as compared with that of the United States were 
undoubtedly true, and acknowledged that such a 
condition of affairs could not long continue without 
producing a revolution. Nevertheless, it refused to 
countenance the annexation movement in any way. 
A reciprocity treaty with the United States would, in 
its judgment, afford to the Canadian people much 
greater advantages than annexation ; and, thanks to 
the hearty co-operation of the motherland, such an 

* The Globe, October 29, 1849. 

2 The Pilot, November 6, 1849 ; British Parliamentary Papers 
Relating to Canada. 

* Lord Elgin, Letters and Journals, p. 104. 

* Quoted from The Mirror, November 2, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 227 

arrangement would soon be consummated. It was 
folly, it declared, to throw away the great public works 
of the colony, and their political freedom, by such "a 
childish, petulant mode of proceeding " as the manifesto 
proposed.^ Unlike some of its contemporaries, the 
Journal did not seek to decry the movement, for fear 
that it would grow in strength, nor propose the adoption 
of repressive measures to snuff it out ; it preferred, on 
the contrary, freely to discuss the issue with the 
Annexationists, in the belief that the decision of the 
public would undoubtedly favour the maintenance of 
the imperial relation. 

At the same time, it deprecated a blind attachment 
to the parent state at the expense of Canadian interests. 
" Whilst we would strive to prevent our friends from 
taking any active part in favour of annexation, we 
would also save them from pledging themselves to 
sustain any administration favourable to the British 
connection. There is a humiliation in such a position 
that we would fain see the Reformers saved from. We 
are the advocates of British connection, but it is not 
the all in all with us. We view it but as a means to 
an end, and that end is the prosperity of Canada. 
This, we are satisfied, can be best accomplished by a 
continuous connection with England. . . . Our creed 
may not be orthodox, but we are free to say that we 
believe first in patriotism, and then in loyalty. Now 
we don't hold with those whose first item is loyalty, 
and whose second is patriotism." The conduct of 
England towards the colonies had been generosity 
itself ; she neither levied imperial taxes, nor exacted 
payment for naval and military protection. " Would 
this be the case," it inquired, "if we were annexed? 
Let us not be duped by disappointed men, who a few 

1 Mr. William Kirby, author of Chien d'Or, issued a bitter philippic 
against the Annexationists. '\I trust to arraign you before my 
judging countrymen, to prove your failsehood, malignancy, and 
treachery, and convict you before heaven and earth, as the most 
reckless, causeless, unreasoning, and selfish batch of revolutionists 
that ever disgraced the calendar of political crime." 

228 The Movement in Upper Canada 

months ago were the bitter opponents of every Liberal 
measure, but now forsooth, when they have no chance 
of the loaves and fishes, are ready to run into the arms 
of the neighbouring republic." ^ 

The St. Catharine's Constitutional, a newly established 
organ of the Conservative Party, declared in an early 
issue : " The old landmarks of party are in a great 
measure done away with, and the all-absorbing question 
now is whether we shall remain an integral portion of 
the empire of Great Britain, or whether, forgetting the 
holy tie by which we are bound to her, we shall seek an 
alliance with a neighbouring republic. Enterprising, 
acute, and energetic — but still a republic, and a republic 
that sanctions a traffic in the bones and sinews of 
human beings. We must unequivocally pronounce in 
favour of British connection, and we fearlessly inquire 
* Why separate ? ' " « 

Equally unsympathetic was the reception of the 
manifesto in the Western peninsula. London won the 
distinction of taking the lead in opposition to annexation. 
In response to a requisition of about sixty freeholders, a 
meeting was called by the Mayor to express the loyalty 
of the city, and its hostility to a political union with 
the United States.' A respectable-sized audience as- 
sembled, and the following resolutions were unani- 
mously adopted : (i) That we view with surprise and 
regret the late movement in Montreal suggesting a 
separation from the mother country, and advocating 
a union with the United States ; (2) That our allegiance 
to our beloved Queen and our attachment to the 
British Empire are subjects of principle and feeling, 
and are not to be weighed in the scale of uncertain 
interests and speculations ; (3) That a calm comparison 
of the alleged advantages and disadvantages of the 
proposed scheme shows that it is not desirable on the 
grounds urged by its advocates. 

* Quoted from The Examiner, December 26, 1849. 
' Quoted from The Montreal Gasette, January 9, 1850. 
' October 19, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 229 

The two principal speakers were the Hon. J. G. 
Goodhue and Mr. John Wilson, the local member. In 
moving the second resolution, the former declared that 
the attempt to disrupt the empire would, if successful, 
be disastrous to the credit of the colony. The move- 
ment was the more reprehensible since England was 
not endeavouring to force any objectionable measures 
or policy upon them ; but, on the contrary, had granted 
to the province the largest liberty of action. Although 
the authors of the manifesto professed to pursue only 
peaceable means of attaining annexation, nevertheless 
the movement might fall into more revolutionary 
hands, and prove dangerous to the welfare of the 
country. The growth of the agitation could be best 
retarded by an early and general expression of pro- 
British feeling throughout the province. In the face 
of a hostile public the idea of annexation would, he 
concluded, soon be abandoned. 

The speech of Mr. Wilson was devoted almost entirely 
to a review and careful analysis of the economic con- 
ditions of the country out of which, in his judgment, 
the annexation movement had originated. Montreal, 
he explained, was bearing the brunt of the commercial 
depression. Thanks to her splendid situation, she had 
long been accustomed to wield the commercial sceptre 
over Canada, but with the establishment of ports of 
entry in the principal cities of Upper Canada, and with 
the opening of the American market, she had lost her 
monopoly of the import and distributing trade. The 
merchants of Canada West now found that they could 
procure their supplies to better advantage at American 
ports and through local wholesale houses than at 
Montreal. The business of the colony as a whole had 
not decreased, but only so much of it as flowed through 
the mouth of the St. Lawrence.* 

Turning then to the consideration of the fiscal policy 
of the motherland, he maintained that, notwithstand- 
ing the artful plea of the Annexationists that the policy 

^ A similar view was expressed by Mr. A. Hope. 

230 The Movement in Upper Canada 

of free trade would ruin the Canadian farmers, the 
latter would not grudge the English labourers the boon 
of cheaper food. They would not be one whit the 
poorer because many of their fellow citizens were better 
fed. He denied the validity of the contention that 
annexation would restore the prosperity of the country 
by the introduction of manufacturing industries from 
across the line ; on the contrary, in the opinion of the 
speaker, it would ruin the existing manufactories by 
flooding the market with the free products of the 
United States. He was not prepared to renounce his 
allegiance in order to gain the material advantage of 
an increase in the price of lands. In conclusion, he 
ridiculed the claim of the manifesto that annexation 
would save Canada from the peril of Anglo-Saxon com- 
plications and from the danger of French domination. 
A transfer of allegiance would not avert the possibility 
of war, nor change the position of the two races. The 
French would still cling to their own race, land, and 

At a similar public meeting at Stratford, shortly 
after, resolutions were adopted in condemnation of the 
manifesto, declaring that any measure for the dis- 
memberment of the empire was opposed to the present 
and future interests of the colony, and praying the 
Legislature to relieve the grievances from which the 
province was suffering. An address of similar import 
was circulated among the citizens, and received many 

The Western papers, almost without exception, 
showed no sympathy with the annexation propaganda. 
" What ! " exclaimed The London Pioneer, "is it 
come to this ? that for paltry pelf we are prepared 
Esau-like to sell our birthright as Britons — to sever 
our connection with the land of our nativity, and to 
dissolve our interest in that glorious history to which 
we have been accustomed to point with pleasure and 
pride — and not only to sever that connection, but to 

» The Pilot, November 15, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 231 

link ourselves to a confederacy whose principal boast 
is that they successfully resisted Britain's power, and 
whose aim is to be considered its rival in the world ? " ' 
The Times, the local Conservative organ, bitterly re- 
sented the attempts of the Liberal press to fasten the 
stigma of disloyalty upon the Tory Party, On behalf 
of its fellow partisans of the Western District, it dis- 
tinctly repudiated any connection or sympathy with 
the Montreal Annexationists.^ 

The opportunity of scoring their opponents was 
too tempting for the Reform press to resist ; and, with 
but few exceptions, they used their advantage in true 
partisan fashion. The Canadian Free Press, for ex- 
ample, arraigned the Tory Annexationists in the most 
unsparing terms. " The history of the Annexation 
Party is remarkably instructive. But a few months 
ago, it boasted of its loyalty, and professed the most 
ardent attachment to the mother country ; now it is 
making every effort to shake off its allegiance to the 
Crown of Britain, and to unite itself with a republic 
which it has for years held up to scorn. The project 
of annexation is ushered in under the worst possible 
auspices — those of the Montreal mob, and the twaddlers 
of the League. Had it come from any other quarter, 
it might have had a better chance of a favourable 
hearing — its coming from Montreal will be fatal to 
it." ' 

The Huron Signal, likewise, affected to treat the 
annexation movement as the product of a treasonable 
conspiracy of a few disappointed place-hunters and 
speculators of Montreal. Although, it declared, the 
farmers and business men of Upper Canada were suffer- 
ing from hard times, it did not believe that the Canadian 
public, on the average, were in any worse position than 
their American neighbours, nor that an appeal to their 
material interests alone would suffice to induce them 

^ Quoted from The Globe, October 27, 1849. 
2 The Times (C.W.), December 14, 1849. 
2 Quoted from The Pilot, November 6, 1849. 

232 The Movement in Upper Canada 

to throw off their allegiance. " We feel satisfied that 
even with the consent of the British Government, it 
would be impossible to induce a majority, or even a 
respectable minority, of the people of Upper Canada 
to agree to a union with the United States. We are 
too proud of our national individuality to consent to 
be swallowed up, or become a mere insignificant in- 
teger of an unwieldy republic." 

Of somewhat similar tenor was the declaration of 
faith of The Dumfries Recorder, as set forth in its 
prospectus. " That the present cry for annexation 
raised by a few disappointed hack politicians, at whose 
hands this fertile country has already suffered so much, 
must be regarded as not only insane, but absolutely 
wicked, in every way injurious to the trade, credit, and 
prosperity of the country ; that the connection with 
Great Britain ought to be maintained, not merely on 
account of old associations, or a sense of reciprocal 
favour, but from a clear perception of mutual benefit." 
The attitude of The Guelph and GaU Advertiser was much 
more reasonable. It undertook to prove by a series of 
cogent arguments, and a long array of statistics, that 
Canada was more prosperous than the United States, 
and that annexation would seriously endanger the 
material well-being of the province. On the other 
hand, as we shall presently see, one or two of the Clear 
Grit papers were inclined to coquette with the United 
States, as a means of getting rid of the privileges of 
the Anglican Church. 

Public opinion in the Midland District was divided 
on the subject of annexation, though the great majority 
of the electorate were undoubtedly opposed to it. In 
response to a requisition, a public meeting was held 
at Cobourg to express disapprobation of the annexation 
movement.' The leading members of both political 
parties participated in the demonstration, and there 
was a marked harmony throughout the whole proceed- 
ings. A series of resolutions was agreed to, condemn- 
* October 30, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 233 

ing the Montreal manifesto ; vindicating the loyalty of 
the colony ; urging the co-operation of the Imperial 
and Colonial Governments for the relief of the existing 
depression of trade ; declaring that the credit of the 
colony could be restored by the adoption of a policy of 
rigid economy and sound legislation, by the elimination 
of bitter partisanship, and a general submission to the 
principles of constitutional government ; commending 
the action of Baldwin and Hincks in opposing annexa- 
tion ; and thanking the motherland for her expendi- 
tures on the public works of the colony. A committee 
was appointed to draw up an address in consonance 
with the foregoing resolutions.^ 

A similar meeting at Belleville was attended by one 
of the largest audiences ever assembled in that city. 
For the moment. Reformers and Conservatives forgot 
their party differences ; prominent Tories such as 
H. Corby and G. Benjamin, Warden of the County and 
Grand Master of the Orangemen, joined hands with 
their political opponents. Dr. Hope, and Bella Flint, 
the local Reform member, in opposing the further 
progress of annexation. Resolutions were unanimously 
adopted, proclaiming the unswerving loyalty of the 
people to the Crown and to British institutions, and 
condemning the proposal of a political union with a 
country whose government was " stained with the 
unnatural crimes of slavery and repudiation." 

A few of the papers of the district wavered for a 
moment in their allegiance, but the majority stood fast 
by the British connection. The Cobourg Star, the 
editor of which was a prominent member of the League, 
expressed the fear that should the scheme of a federal 
union of the provinces, which would again be discussed 
at the approaching convention of the League, " be 
found impracticable, no other means than annexation 
can be pointed out which will satisfy the people." 

According to The Kingston Chronicle and News, the 
leading local organ of the Tory Party in the Bay of 
* The Globe, November 6, 1849. 

234 The Movement in Upper Canada 

Quinte section, the policy of Cobden had undermined 
the loyalty of the people of the colony. But, it urged, 
the material advantages of annexation should not lead 
them to dissolve the imperial tie ; it was " still in- 
cumbent on the Annexationists to prove that the 
British connection was absolutely incompatible with the 
prosperity of the province . " This was more particularly 
the case, since most of the advantages of annexation 
could be obtained by a reciprocity treaty with the 
United States, the prospects of securing which were 
excellent, in case the Democratic Party were victorious 
at the next elections, as now appeared most probable. 
For the time being, the policy of the League was, in 
the opinion of The Chronicle, most suited to the com- 
mercial conditions of the country, and best calculated 
to maintain the British connection. " If it should fail 
to restore prosperity to the country, then we shall be 
prepared to adopt any course which, on mature con- 
sideration, shall be deemed necessary to so vital an 
object, even though that course should involve an- 
nexation." But, it concluded, annexation should be 
accepted only as a last resort. 

The British American came out emphatically against 
annexation. The City of Montreal, it declared, had 
been taken with the annexation mania, as a result of 
provincial misgovemment. " A change of men will 
not now satisfy the Montrealers ; a change of measures 
they now look upon as useless ; but it remains with 
Upper Canada to decide whether they will doff the 
garb of loyalty and don that of republicanism. They 
may agitate as they will, and hire as many lecturers 
as they please ; but, when the day of trial comes, they 
will find that the loyalists of Canada will be ready to 
do their duty." " We have no faith," it continued, " in 
annexation. We believe that republicanism and its 
institutions are totally unsuited to the habits and 
tastes of the great majority of Canadians." It had also 
little faith in the saving virtue of English protection. 
If the Government would cease to look out for the 

The Movement in Upper Canada 235 

partisan interest of its office-holders, the agitation for 
annexation would, it concluded, soon disappear. 

According to The Kingston Whig, the prospects of 
the Annexationists were most encouraging. " During a 
recent absence from home, the editor passed through a 
dozen villages in Upper Canada, and the sole topic of 
conversation among all classes and parties was annexa- 
tion. Nay, in the good city of Kingston, loyal old 
Kingston, the stronghold of Conservatism, far ex- 
cellence, nine-tenths of the people are annexationists ; 
and if any practical benefit could arise from signing 
any manifesto, they would cheerfully do it. But they 
possess common sense ; and, knowing that without 
the consent of Great Britain all attempts at annexation 
must be worse than useless, they wisely bide their 
time." » 

The Kingston Argus came out frankly in favour of 
annexation.' The bold and clear-cut manner in which 
it proclaimed its principles contrasted markedly with 
the doubtful hesitancy of many of its contemporaries. 
The latter, it declared, either shrank from the task of 
directing public opinion, or, as in the case of the 
Ministerial press, complacently accepted the advan- 
tages which accrued from the party being in office. 
" For ourselves, we have to say that we have long 
looked forward to the ultimate annexation of these 
provinces to the United States as a thing inevitable. 
So many of the most loyal men among us have held 
the same opinion, that our conviction has not yet been 
shaken, and passing events tend to strengthen it. The 
time of its accomplishment is not far distant ; whether 
it is agreeable to our feelings personally, we shall not 
take into consideration. It would be ungrateful in the 
extreme to forget our fatherland and all we owe to it, 
but it would be baser still to allow our private feelings 
and interests to interfere with the duty we owe to the 
land we live in." 

1 Quoted from The Burlington Daily Sentinel, October 31, 1849. 
• Ibid., November i, 1849. 

236 The Movement in Upper Canada 

On the other hand, The Herald and The Age, which 
represented the interests of the local Reformers, con- 
curred in the opinion that the annexation cry " was a 
mere cloak to effectually prostrate the Reform Party." 
Although, according to The Age, the manifesto did not 
exhibit on its face a partisan spirit, nevertheless, both 
from its origin and the character of its support, the 
address ought reasonably to be attributed to the dis- 
appointed and baffled hopes of a clique, " which, having 
been beaten in the fight over the Rebellion Losses Bill, 
now turned their attention to more dangerous designs." 
In any case, the motives of the authors were open to 
grave suspicion. There was, it contended, a striking 
inconsistency in the language of the manifesto in pro- 
fessing the greatest deference to the wishes of England 
in regard to separation, and in painting such a graphic 
picture of the woes of the country as a result of im- 
perial policy. What, it demanded, would the Annexa- 
tionists do, if the English Government should refuse, 
as was most probable, its consent to annexation ? 

Very similar was the language of The Peterborough 
Despatch. " That the document is an emanation of 
disappointed Toryism, none will pretend to deny, 
although we are prepared to admit that in some par- 
ticulars it is exceedingly plausible. It will, we im- 
agine, be granted that this move is purported to have 
originated in the passing of the Rebellion Losses Bill, 
and further that the object sought by the individuals 
connected with the proposed measure is neither more 
nor less than that attributed to the men who have been 
so often designated Rebels and Traitors by the MacNabs 
and Cayleys of Canada. Here, then, we have the con- 
sistency of the scions of the old compact. In one case 
they hang and shoot men for using lead to attain a 
certain object, while they themselves avow that they 
are about to attempt the realization of the same 
object, through the means of soft sawder. Don't they 
wish they may get it ? " 

The general consensus of opinion in the Eastern 

The Movement in Upper Canada 237 

District of Upper Canada was equally opposed to an- 
nexation, though here and there voices were raised in 
its support. The old prejudice of the United Empire 
loyalists against the American people and republican 
institutions had largely disappeared, but the inhabi- 
tants were not yet prepared to exchange their citizen- 
ship.^ At the session of the Grand Jury in Bathurst 
Township, Lanark, a protest was drawn up against the 
Montreal manifesto. The inhabitants of the Town- 
ship, they declared, had no sympathy with the annexa- 
tion movement. The jurors, who were evidently 
staunch Reformers, added the rider that there was 
nothing to fear, but everything to hope from a con- 
tinuance of the British connection, so long as the 
existing Government remained in office to conduct the 
affairs of the colony according to English constitutional 
principles.* At a subsequent meeting of the Lanark 
and Renfrew Reform Association, a resolution was 
adopted, incorporating into the objects of the Associa- 
tion a declaration in favour of the British connection. 
The editor of The Brockville Recorder, a Liberal 
paper, bore testimony to the fact that in a trip through 
a portion of Leeds and Bathurst, he had met with but 
one Annexationist. Although the farmers were com- 
plaining of hard times, they were comfortable in their 
homes and politically contented. The Cornwall Free- 
holder accused the Tories of secretly sympathizing with 
the Annexationists, " Even in this truly loyal district 
we have heard of some of the old Tory compact who 
are even now holding offices of emolument under the 
Government, exulting over and secretly extolling the 
treasonable document ; and, were it not for the half- 
pay consideration, we have no doubt they would step 
forth in their proper garb — their assumed loyalty cast 
aside — as traitors to their sovereign. Such men should 
be narrowly watched by the Government, We dis- 
tinctly tell these political incendiaries that the day of 

* Letter from W. A, Buell, The Globe, November 20, 1849. 
' October 26, 1849, 

288 The Movement in Upper Canada 

retribution is not far off. The Reformers of Upper 
Canada have no sympathy with these men — they have 
got all the liberties that rational men can desire, and 
they revere that magnanimous nation which has so 
promptly conceded to them the management of their 
own affairs in the shape of responsible government." 

The Brockville Statesman, the organ of Mr. Gowan, 
and the leading Tory paper of the district, advised its 
readers to have nothing to do with the annexation 
movement, but to look to the League as the only 
legitimate exponent of the principles of the Conserva- 
tive Party. The approaching convention of the League 
would pass judgment upon the question of annexation ; 
until then it was the duty " of every true man to 
remain stationary but steady." 

In the Ottawa valley, according to The Bytown 
Packet,^ the local Liberal organ, public opinion ran 
strongly against separation. It expressed the opinion 
that " the people of Montreal are ready for any mis- 
chief. They are, however, powerless ; for upon this 
question, as upon every other question, the great 
majority will declare against them. This move, origi- 
nating as it did with the Montreal Tory merchants, 
is too apparently selfish to command any degree of 
attention in the Upper Province ; and in the Lower 
the parties with whom it originated are well understood 
and treated with contempt accordingly. On the whole, 
the affair is too contemptible just now to attract much 

The movement, it admitted, however, might create 
a new party which would find " many converts among 
the discontented, vicious, and disappointed class who 
fancy themselves men of a new idea." The Annexa- 
tionists were but deceiving themselves and the country 
at large in pretending that the home Government was 
anxious to get rid of the colonies. England would not 
agree to annexation, whatever some of her statesmen 
might say to the contrary. She was still deeply 
» The Bytown Packet, October 20, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 289 

attached to the colonies, and necessity alone would 
cause her to throw them off. Whatever the attitude 
of the Canadian Tories might prove to be, it would be 
exceedingly imprudent for the Reformers to join in a 
separationist movement at the very moment of the 
grant of responsible government.^ Under these cir- 
cumstances, it concluded, the annexation movement 
was both impracticable and uncalled for. The Bytown 
Gazette likewise indulged in some biting sarcasm at the 
expense of the people of Montreal. The inhabitants 
of that fair city had taken up a new fad : they had 
now gone mad on the subject of annexation. But, it 
remarked, " We never put great faith in the great 
Canadian emporium of shopkeepers, and in the present 
instance less than ever." 

Throughout the Eastern District, the one lone cham- 
pion of the annexation cause was The Prescott Tele- 
graph, a Reform journal of pronounced Radical ten- 
dencies. The manifesto, it declared, was its own best 
defence. " We must confess we never saw so many 
plain incontrovertible facts put into so small a com- 
pass. ... In truth we are a poor spiritless unenter- 
prising population, without means to help ourselves, 
and destitute of the energy to improve, if we had the 
means." Tom by dissensions and domestic conflict, 
the country presented a humiliating picture of misery 
and discontent. " For our part, we see no hope, unless 
all parties will agree to drop their differences, and meet 
upon some neutral ground ; that ground has been 
marked out in the annexation address." That a 
change of allegiance would come some day was evident 
to all reflecting persons in England and the United 
States, as well as Canada. " In the present position of 
affairs, it may be that that change can take place as 
well now as at any future time, particularly if it can 
be accomplished without bloodshed." England was 
weary of the expense and discontent of the colonies, 
and was anxious to get rid of them, if the act could be 

1 The Bytown Packet, November lo, 1849. 

240 The Movement in Upper Canada 

accomplished in a friendly and honourable fashion. 
But, it added by way of caution, Canada should not 
think of severing the tie unless it could be done with 
mutual satisfaction. But the wails of The Telegraph 
were as the voice of one crying in the wilderness ; they 
failed to strike a sympathetic chord throughout the 

For some time subsequent to the Kingston Conven- 
tion, the League was not much in evidence. Negocia- 
tions were set on foot by a committee of the League 
with various persons and organizations in the Maritime 
Provinces, with a view to interesting them in the 
calling of an interprovincial conference to consider the 
question of a federal union. But at first, largely owing 
to the indifference and suspicion of the colonists by the 
sea, these efforts did not meet with much success. 
The rapid progress of the annexation movement, and 
the secession of many of their prominent members, 
stirred up the officers of the League to greater activity ; 
for it was realized that unless some measures were 
speedily taken to promote the objects of the association, 
it would be difficult to justify, or even to maintain, its 

Notwithstanding considerable opposition, a portion of 
which was due to a suspicion on the part of some of 
the St. John papers that the League was seeking to 
draw the Maritime Provinces into a political union 
with the United States, arrangements were at last 
concluded with the Colonial Association of New 
Brunswick for a conference at Montreal. The latter 
body sent two delegates, the Hon. John Robertson 
and C. Simmons, to meet the representatives of the 
League — Messrs. Gowan, Crawford, Wilson, Mont- 
gomerie, and Gamble. As the conference unfortunately 
convened at the moment when the citizens of Montreal 
were in a state of great excitement over the annexation 
manifesto, its proceedings attracted but scanty notice 
from the press and public* In truth, the inhabitants 
• October 13, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 241 

of the city had very little faith in the object of the con- 
ference. As a result of its deliberations, the conference 
unanimously adopted a series of resolutions setting 
forth : (i) That the commercial ills of the colonies were 
due to the fiscal policy of England in depriving them of 
preference in the British market without securing for 
them an equivalent fiscal advantage elsewhere; (2) 
that the colonies would inevitably be ruined, if Great 
Britain did not restore the colonial preference, or else 
procure for Canadian products an entrance into foreign 
markets, especially into the United States, on terms of 
reciprocity, "one or the other of which policies is con- 
sidered indispensable to the continuance of our present 
political connection with Great Britain." ^ 

As the conference committee was now ready to 
report, a call was issued for a second convention to 
meet in Toronto, the beginning of November. The 
success of the annexation movement forced the League 
to determine its future policy in the light of recent 
political developments. All the old issues of the last 
convention were at once revived. In the various 
branches of the League, the questions of annexation 
and elective institutions were most carefully canvassed, 
and upon these two issues the election of the delegates 
was generally fought out. Some of the League leaders 
were wavering in their political faith ; some were sus- 
pected of annexation proclivities because of their 
advocacy of the popular election of public officials ; 
while others stood fast by the ancient principles of the 
Tory Party. 

Just prior to the assembling of the convention, Mr. 
J. W. Gamble, a prominent member of the progressive 
wing of the party, came out with an open letter in 
which he advocated the adoption of the policy of 
protection. Although personally opposed to annexa- 
tion on political grounds, he admitted that, from a 
commercial standpoint, a political union with the 
United States would be more advantageous to the 
> The Globe, November 8, 1849. 

242 The Movement in Upper Canada 

colony than the existing humiliating position of 
" hewers of wood and drawers of water to Great 
Britain," Annexation, he argued, would undoubtedly 
introduce American capital into the country and afford 
protection to Canadian industries against outside 
nations ; but, at the same time, it would only effect a 
change of masters by subjecting the industries of the 
province to the domination of the United States in 
place of Great Britain.^ 

The Leagues of Western Canada pronounced clearly 
and emphatically against annexation ; some of the 
branches specifically instructed their delegates to oppose 
it on the floor of the convention should the issue be 
there raised.* The Grimsby League adopted a resolu- 
tion expressing " their abhorrence of annexation, and 
repudiation of the doctrine of abjuring one's country 
from capricious or other motives." But from Lower 
Canada, a few well-known Annexationists were chosen 
as delegates. The selection of Toronto as the seat of 
the convention placed the Annexationists at a distinct 
disadvantage, for they were called upon to defend their 
cause in the very centre of pro-British feeling. The 
situation was rendered even more difficult for them by 
reason of the fact that several branches, which were 
unable to provide for the expenses of local delegates, 
selected citizens of Toronto as their representatives. 
In truth, the influence of Toronto was most markedly 
felt throughout the proceedings of the convention. 

In November the convention assembled with upwards 
of sixty delegates in attendance. As at Kingston, the 
delegates were a heterogeneous body of men, represent- 
ing almost all shades of political thought — ultra-Tories, 
Liberal Conservatives, a few stray Radicals, and several 
Annexationists. Additional interest was lent to the 
proceedings from the fact that the convention was 
expected to consider the recent manifesto, and deter- 
mine the future attitude of the League towards annexa- 

• The Colonist, October 30, 1849. 

• The Guelph and Gait Advertiser, November i, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 243 

tion. It was thought by some of the Tories that a 
reaction had set in against both the Government and 
the Annexationists, from which the League might profit. 
"The sacrifice of French interests," The Colonist de- 
clared, " by the removal of the Government from 
Montreal, and the scorn which the Ministerial press had 
thrown upon the annexation movement, had alienated 
a multitude of their staunchest supporters," while the 
rashness of the proceedings of the Montreal Annexa- 
tionists had had a similar effect upon many of the 
members of that party. By judicious diplomacy, and 
the adoption of an attractive programme, it was be- 
lieved that many of the disaffected might be won over 
to the League. There was the greater reason for hope 
in this respect, since several of the most prominent 
members of the League, as Go wan, Gamble, Prince, and 
Wilson were not only Liberal in their political views, 
but were also on cordial terms with many of the 

The question of annexation was the most absorbing 
topic before the convention. The delegates apparently 
could not avoid debating the question ; it was dragged 
into the discussion of almost every matter from elective 
institutions to a federal union of the provinces. The 
convention, in this regard, merely reflected the state 
of public opinion ; as in the country, so in the con- 
vention, annexation was the leading issue of the 

The subject came up at the very opening of the 
convention in a series of resolutions, the first of which 
recited that " exciting and irritating political questions 
involving the dismemberment of the colony from the 
empire " were " engendering discontent, discord, and 
fierce political animosities," and called for the adoption 
of judicious measures to allay the social and political 
unrest of the people. Everywhere, Mr. Gamble de- 
clared, in introducing the resolutions, the people were 
talking of annexation and independence, and the 
Government seemed powerless, or unwilling, to punish 

244 The Movement in Upper Canada 

the press which was promoting the agitation. Although 
he regretted the publication of the manifesto, he hoped 
that the question of annexation would be thoroughly 
discussed by the convention. The leaders of the League, 
he announced, " regarded it as a dernier ressort, and 
were not going to buck the question." But the friends 
of annexation at once took exception to the language 
of the resolution,, as unjustly reflecting upon the 
character of the movement in Montreal ; and, notwith- 
standing the protestations of Mr. Gamble to the 
contrary, they pressed for the excision of the objection- 
able clause. Mr. Crawford of Brockville voiced the 
protest of the dissentients against the disrespectful 
language of the resolution, which was calculated to 
irritate the feelings of the Annexationists, and " to 
cause several gentlemen belonging to the convention to 

The manifesto was a calm and moderate document, 
and not a revolutionary instrument. Such ill will as 
was evidenced throughout the province did not exist 
between the pro- and anti-annexationists, but rather 
between the two old political parties. Every man with 
whom he had conversed regarding the subject had 
admitted " that the time for annexation would come," 
and now, he believed, was the proper time to discuss, 
and, if possible, determine the question. Messrs. 
Macdonald of Ganonoque and Hamilton of Beverley 
joined in the protest against the censure of the Annexa- 
tionists. The former declared that the remedy pro- 
posed by the manifesto " was probably the only one that 
the country would finally adopt," while the latter 
considered it inadvisable to condemn the movement 
when the convention itself was divided upon the 
question. Some of the delegates were fully convinced 
that annexation would never come ; others regarded 
it as a dernier ressort ; and still others were of the 
opinion that it was near at hand. For his part he did 
not care to discuss the question of loyalty to the 
British flag at a time when the farmers of the country 

The Movement in Upper Canada 245 

were suffering from the British connection, while their 
American neighbours were prosperous. 

In moving a substitute resolution, " that these 
colonies cannot remain in their present commercial and 
political state," Mr. Go wan expressed the opinion that 
annexation sentiment was growing rapidly throughout 
the province. The Ministerial press, in trying to put 
down annexation by crying up the prosperity of the 
country, were building " on a foundation of sand. ' ' The 
question of separation was now a mere matter of pounds, 
shillings, and pence. Since England had put the ques- 
tion on that basis, by the abrogation of the protective 
system for purely selfish reasons, it was not unpatriotic 
for Canada to consider the subject from the standpoint 
of her own special interests. The depressed condition 
of the province was a sorry contrast to the prosperity 
of the United States. He did not elaborate the de- 
plorable state of Canadian industry and agriculture 
from any desire to influence the convention in favour 
of annexation, but in order to prove the necessity for 
a change in the commercial policy of the motherland. 

In seconding the amendment, Mr. Mumey of Belle- 
ville stated that he had thought at first that the question 
of annexation should have been shelved as at the 
Kingston Convention, but that he had yielded his 
opinion in response to the general demand of the 
delegates for a free and frank discussion of the whole 
situation of affairs. The manifesto, he regretfully ad- 
mitted, had met with sympathy from many who had 
not as yet expressed themselves openly. " The feeling 
was spreading faster than they were aware of, and he 
hoped that they would do something to stem the 
current." Mr. Wilson of Quebec expressed the opinion 
that the delegates would not now be hearing so much 
about annexation, if the previous convention had been 
permitted freely to discuss the subject. Personally 
his sense of loyalty was second to that of the interests 
of his family. There was every probability that the 
people of Canada would demand a political union with 

246 The Movement in Upper Canada 

the United States, unless England reversed her fiscal 
policy, for the sentiment in favour of annexation was 
spreading rapidly, particularly in the West. He 
agreed with the view of Mr, Gowan, that the convention 
should discuss the issue upon a purely business basis. 

The primary importance of the commercial side of 
separation was further emphasized by Mr. Duggan of 
Toronto, who demanded that England should show 
due consideration of Canadian interests in the deter- 
mination of her fiscal policy. Many Canadians, he 
admitted, wished for annexation ; personally he did 
not, " but it was forced upon him " by the unfriendly 
action of the motherland. This phase of the discussion 
called forth another speech from Mr. Wilson, even more 
Radical in tone than any of his previous utterances. 
Although he professed a sentimental preference for the 
British flag over the Stars and Stripes, and severely 
attacked the unfairness of the manifesto in failing to 
show the reverse side of the picture, which annexation 
would entail in the loss of revenue, the sacrifice of the 
public lands of the province, and the increase in public 
expenditures, he frankly avowed that, if England did 
not do Canada justice, he was prepared to fight. An 
amendment by Mr. O'Brien to the effect that, if Great 
Britain did not herself provide a market for Canadian 
products, or secure the admission of Canadian products 
into the markets of foreign countries, or of the United 
States under favourable conditions, Canada " would 
be compelled to seek the welfare of her own people " 
irrespective of the interests or opposition of England, 
was lost upon division. In order to avoid a confusion 
of issues, the Gamble and Gowan resolutions were 
thrown into the melting-pot, and recast in a consider- 
ably modified form, which happily proved acceptable 
to the whole body of delegates. 

The question of annexation again claimed the chief 
attention in the discussion of the resolution in favour 
of a federal union of the provinces. Such a union, 
it was felt by practically all the speakers, including 

The Movement in Upper Canada 247 

Mr. Gamble, the author of the resolution, and President 
Moffatt, was the only means of avoiding annexation. 
The very existence of the League, it was admitted, was 
endangered by the defection of so many of its members, 
A truly national policy was required to fire the imagina- 
tion of the Canadian people. An intercolonial con- 
vention ought, in the opinion of Mr. Gamble, to be 
called at once, for Canada " was on the verge of a revo- 
lution," Several of the delegates expressed grave 
doubt as to whether England would voluntarily 
surrender the North American colonies to the United 
States, but the majority of the speakers were of the 
opinion that she might be willing to grant independence 
to Canada, either as a separate state, or, preferably, as 
a member of an intercolonial federation. 

The annexation issue was again raised upon a 
resolution of Mr. Wilson in favour of an elective 
Legislative Council. Upon this resolution, the con- 
vention, for a time, threatened to split asunder ; the 
progressive and conservative wings of the convention 
lined up in battle array. It was urged by the repre- 
sentatives of the new Tory democracy that the adop- 
tion of the elective system would be an effective offset 
to the radical propaganda of the Annexationists in 
favour of the more popular institutions of the United 
States, especially in view of the fact that those doctrines 
were taking a firm hold on the growing democracy of 
Canada. To the ultra-Tories, on the contrary, the 
principle of popular election was a dangerous American 
innovation, incompatible with the British Constitution. 
The resolution, it was feared, presaged a political revo- 
lution ; it marked the first step towards republican 
institutions — a step which would inevitably result in 
time in the incorporation of Canada into the United 
States. An amendment by Mr, Mumey expressing 
disapproval of any change in the existing Constitution, 
and coupling therewith a condemnation of the Montreal 
manifesto, was lost upon division. 

So manifest was the interest of the convention in the 

248 The Movement in Upper Canada 

subject of annexation, that the leaders of the League 
were convinced that to attempt in any way to suppress 
or limit the discussion of the question, as at the former 
convention, would only breed discontent, and further 
the cause of annexation. Moreover, it was politically 
advisable for the League not to outrage the suscepti- 
bilities of any of its supporters, or drive them out of the 
party into the camp of the Annexationists. President 
Moffatt urged upon the delegates the wisdom of culti- 
vating the most cordial relation with the Annexationists 
with a view to joint action against the Government at 
the next general election. As the delegates were over- 
whelmingly pro-British in sentiment, there was little 
danger to apprehend that the debate would be con- 
verted into a propaganda for annexation. At the same 
time, some of the loyalist members thought it advisable 
to commit the convention to the maintenance of the 
British connection. 

A resolution was accordingly introduced by Mr. 
Miller : " That it is a matter of regret to this conven- 
tion that the subject of a separation of this colony from 
the motherland and annexation to the United States 
of America has been openly advocated by a portion of 
the press and inhabitants of this province : and this 
convention unhesitatingly records its entire disapproba- 
tion of this course, and calls upon all well-wishers of 
this country to discountenance it by every means in 
their power." In presenting the motion, Mr. Miller 
stated that, if there had been one, there had been 
twenty delegates who were opposed to the discussion of 
the question of annexation, because they wished that 
the impression should go abroad that the convention 
was neutral upon the matter. They desired the Public 
to draw the conclusion that annexationist sympathies 
were strongly in evidence in the Conservative Party, 
and that the convention, if not favourable to separa- 
tion, was at least not opposed to it. Should such 
an opinion gain general currency, it would, in his 
opinion, seriously operate against the League. The 

The Movement in Upper Canada 249 

revolutionary spirit was abroad throughout the world. 
Although the Annexationists professed the most 
peaceable aims, there was not the slightest chance of 
the peaceful consummation of their policy. " They 
were dissolving the bonds of society, and revolution- 
izing the country, not for the purpose of maintaining 
the great principles of civil and religious liberty, but 
for the mere chance of commercial advantage." 

The chief argument of the Annexationists was the 
commercial one — the loss of the imperial preference, 
and the advantage of the American market. But 
annexation, he contended, would sacrifice Canadian 
farmers to the American cotton, tobacco, sugar, and 
manufacturing interests. He denied the allegation 
that the English Government and people were desirous 
of throwing off the colonies. The views of the leaders 
of the Radical Party in England in regard to separation, 
upon which the Annexationists based their erroneous 
representations, were uttered at the time of civil 
war in Canada. In the face of a colonial rebellion, 
they had nobly declared that they would not hold 
the colonies in subjection against their will ; but, 
on the contrary, would grant to them the fullest 
liberty of determining their own political future in 
relation to England. But such a position, he main- 
tained, was fundamentally different from that of 
the Annexationists. Another argument of the 
Annexationists, " supported, he was sorry to say, 
by a portion of the Conservative Party," was to the 
effect that, as a union with the United States was a 
mere matter of time, the sooner steps were taken to 
that end, the better it would be for the province. 
But he believed that time would develop a sense of 
deeper attachment to the motherland : the old 
loyalty of 1812 would break out again with renewed 
vigour. The peaceful plea of the manifesto betrayed 
" a Judas loyalty which proffered the kiss of affection 
to the Sovereign as an emblem of its treason." In 
conclusion, he assured the delegates that the resolu- 

250 The Movement in Upper Canada 

tion was presented with no intent of stirring up a 
division in the convention, but in order that the League 
might stamp the annexation movement with its dis- 

Mr. RoUand MacDonald of St. Catharine's, whose 
appearance was greeted with loud cries of " Question ! " 
delivered a ranting pro-British address, amid the rest- 
less confusion of the delegates. The Annexationists, 
he declared, should not be too thin-skinned. He did 
not believe that there was a single member of the con- 
vention who was prepared to support annexation, out 
and out, though there were several who were suspected 
of leaning that way. Many of the signers of the 
manifesto were loyal Britishers at heart, and would 
still fight for the maintenance of the British connection : 
some had appended their names " on account of pique, 
and many in order to compel Great Britain to take 
notice of our position." These he desired to reclaim 
by holding out the hope of the future greatness and 
prosperity of the country. He accused the supporters 
of the principle of popular election of playing the 
game of the Annexationists, and charged the Govern- 
ment with insincerity in not opposing the election of 
Mr. Perry. 

The greater prosperity of the United States was, he 
claimed, fictitious, an inflated result of heavy borrow- 
ings of English capital. Was Canada to revolt, he 
asked, because she had been granted freedom of trade, 
the abrogation of the Navigation Laws, and the right 
of self-government, for which she had long contended ? 
By annexation they would lose the control of their 
public lands, customs revenues, postal system, and the 
English grant for troops and fortifications ; on the 
other hand, their taxes would be quadrupled, and they 
would be burdened with a part of the United States 
debt. Why should they wish for annexation to a 
coimtry which spoke of them with contempt, and 
which, moreover, did not want them until the slavery 
issue had been settled ? Great Britain would never 

The Movement in Upper Canada 251 

consent to surrender the colonies voluntarily, since by 
so doing she would reduce herself to the rank of a fifth- 
rate power in the world. Two of the annexation papers 
in Montreal and Toronto were, he alleged, supported 
by American funds intended for the Irish rebellion. 
But the people of Canada were loyal to the core, and 
could not be corrupted by foreign gold ; their allegiance 
was not a mere matter of monetary advantage, and 
they would not barter their British inheritance for a 
mess of pottage. Even though England should agree 
to independence, the Canadian public would not con- 
sent to convert their province into a slave state. He 
called upon Reformers and Tories alike to " clear their 
skirts of the Annexationists," and to unite in pressing 
upon the British Government the necessity of procuring 
for Canadian products an entrance into the American 

Mr. Gamble rose to clear himself of the charge of 
annexation sympathies which had been lodged against 
him by the previous speaker ; but almost at once 
launched into an embittered attack upon the British 
Government. England, he contended, had placed the 
empire upon a materialistic plane, and had branded 
the loyalists of Canada as spurious patriots. The 
arguments of the Annexationists could not be answered 
by mere rhetorical appeals to the British flag, such as 
they had just listened to. Mr. Mack of Montreal ex- 
pressed the opinion that both the resolution and the 
accompanying speeches were uncalled for, as the 
loyalty of the League was too well known to require 
vindication. The chief danger of annexation arose, in 
his judgment, out of the old scorn of the English 
Government towards the colonies, and the fatuous 
policy of the Manchester School. 

At this point, an amendment was proposed by Mr. 
Hamilton : " That it is wholly inexpedient to discuss 
the question of annexation at this convention, the 
loyalty of whose members cannot be questioned, and 
amongst whom, as a body, there is found no individual 

252 The Movement in Upper Canada 

to advocate any such obnoxious principle." Only a 
firm expression of opinion on the part of the convention 
would, he urged, force the English Government to 
realize that any further delay, or refusal to remedy the 
legitimate grievances of the colony, might lead to 
annexation. The convention was quite justified, in his 
opinion, in using the threat of annexation as a means 
of coercing England into a compliance with their 
demands. The Canadian farmers would not suffer 
much longer without seeking relief in a union with the 
United States. If the resolution of Mr. Miller was 
adopted, the idea would prevail that no matter what 
England did, or failed to do, Canada would remain 
staunchly loyal to the bitter end. The League should 
not forget the insults that the British Government 
had heaped upon them. They were not called upon, 
Mr. George Duggan added, to trumpet forth their undying 
loyalty, but should rather seek to find some remedy or 
remedies for the evils from which they were now suffer- 
ing. But these clever attempts to divert the attention 
of the delegates from the main resolution, by arousing 
the smouldering embers of resentment against the 
motherland, did not succeed. 

The delegates shared the opinion of Mr. G. Duggan 
that, however much the expediency of the introduction 
of the original resolution might be questioned, the 
convention could not amend it, without creating the 
false impression that the League was in sympathy with 
annexation. The amendment was accordingly de- 
feated by an overwhelming majority, only four or five 
delegates venturing to support it. The Miller resolu- 
tion was thereupon agreed to unanimously. 

The convention revealed very clearly that the ques- 
tion of annexation had grown in interest and importance 
since the Kingston Convention. Notwithstanding the 
defection of many of the Annexationists from the party, 
there was still a considerable leaven of annexation 
sentiment in some branches of the League, especially 
in Lower Canada. But the convention was too strongly 

The Movement in Upper Canada 253 

British in feeling for the few isolated representatives 
of pro- American sentiment to venture to advocate their 
cause openly, save as an ultimate resort, in case that all 
their remedies failed to restore prosperity to the colony. 
The overwhelming majority of the delegates were 
unswervingly loyal, though a few were free to admit 
that the question of annexation was worthy of con- 
sideration ; they refused, however, to have anything 
to do with it, so long as there was a reasonable hope of 
saving the country in any other way. A few of the 
ultra-loyalists, Colonel Playfair for example, would not 
admit that annexation was a proper subject for dis- 
cussion. The decisive vote of the convention settled 
the question of annexation for all time, so far as the 
general body of the League was concerned. The 
annexationist members saw the folly of waging a 
losing battle against such heavy odds, and desisted 
from any further agitation within the League. 

Immediately after the close of the convention, 
Mr. T. Wilson of Quebec addressed an open letter to 
Mr. John Redpath, in which he deplored a continuance 
of the annexation campaign, as threatening serious 
injury to the interests and prosperity of Canada, and 
as weakening the hands of those who were seeking to 
improve the constitution of the country. He deeply 
sympathized with his many fellow citizens who had 
been reduced to insolvency by the unjust fiscal legis- 
lation of England, but he was convinced that the 
adoption of the policy of the League in respect to 
elective institutions, and the protection of Canadian 
industries, would rescue the province from its distress. 
" For annexation the people are not yet ready, 
and the discussion of the question is premature 
and imprudent, and, if persisted in, can only lead to 
commotion and civil war." For these reasons, he 
appealed to Mr. Redpath, as President of the Montrea 
association, to drop the annexation issue for the time 
being, until the policy of the League had been tried. 
" All are agreed that we cannot remain as we are, and 

254 The Movement in Upper Canada 

many that annexation may be necessary, but only as a 
last step." They should, therefore, wait to see what 
the future had in store, before rushing hastily into an 
advocacy of annexation. 

The response of Mr. Redpath was a scathing inti- 
mation to Mr. Wilson to mind his own business, and 
not meddle in the affairs of other persons and organi- 
zations. In conclusion, he remarked : " I do not 
despair of yet seeing you a good annexationist (criminal 
though the idea may appear to you at present) after 
you have seen the futility of the various nostrums 
which are now occupying your attention." This brief 
but pointed correspondence marked the final breach of 
the League and the Annexation Party. The latter, 
through its President, decisively refused to sell out 
to its quondam friends, or to compromise its princi- 
ples in any way. The flag of annexation was nailed 
more tightly than ever to the masthead of the associa- 

At a subsequent meeting of the Montreal branch of 
the League, the Hon. George Moffatt stated that he 
deemed the expression of an opinion on the annexation 
movement premature at present, but thought that the 
Annexationists might have continued to act with them. 
He did not say that annexation might not finally come 
to be a matter for consideration and debate, but the 
time had not come yet. When that time did come, he 
would consider it entirely as a Canadian question. 
" But we ought first to ascertain what Great Britain 
could and would do for us. " Should England, however, 
refuse to adopt a policy under which Canada could 
prosper, " then we must consider an alternative." In 
conclusion he severely criticized the policy of Great 
Britain in respect to free trade and the Navigation 

Mr. Backus, who avowed himself an Annexationist, 
saw no incompatibility in belonging to both the League 
and the annexation association, but several of the other 
members expressed themselves as strongly opposed to 

The Movement in Upper Canada 255 

annexation. In the ensuing election of officers, the 
former annexationist officials were dropped from the 
slate, and a pronounced pro-British Executive, with 
Hon, George Moffatt as President, and Messrs, Gugy, 
Allan, Fisher, and Mack as Vice-Presidents, was chosen 
in their stead. With such a board of officials, there was 
little opportunity for the future propagation of separa- 
tionist tenets in the Montreal branch of the League, 
There might indeed be a hankering desire on the part 
of some of the members for an alliance with the An- 
nexationists, but there was no longer any question of 
the loyalty of the League, 

Several of the Leagues in Upper Canada likewise took 
occasion to register " their most decided disapproba- 
tion of all attempts being made to sever these British- 
American provinces from the mother country, with a 
view of joining the republican United States of 
America." * The Cambden Branch expressed the hope 
" that the convention, when it meets again, will use 
every exertion to suppress such an iniquitous measure." 
Among the Conservatives of Upper Canada, the con- 
sensus of opinion was tending more strongly every day 
against any interference with the colonial relation. 

One phase of the annexation movement in Upper 
Canada has been reserved for separate consideration, 
namely, its relation to the Clear Grit Party, The 
general election, as we have seen, had returned an 
overwhelming majority of Reformers to the House of 
Assembly. As long as the struggle for responsible 
government was being fought out, the Baldwin- 
Lafontaine Ministry commanded the united support of 
the party. But with the triumph of the principles 
of English Liberalism, the former division in the ranks 
of the party again reappeared. The joint leaders of the 
Government were too cautious in temperament and 
too conservative in policy to please the more radical 
element of the Reformers. The latter were daily 
growing more impatient at the moderation of the 

* British Pari. Pap. (Papers relating to Canada, 1850). 

256 The Movement in Upper Canada 

Government, and its apparent disinclination to deal 
with the burning political and ecclesiastical issues of 
the day. 

Mr. George Brown of The Globe essayed in vain the 
difficult role of endeavouring by friendly criticism to 
stir up the Ministry to action, and, at the same time, of 
curbing the restless spirit of the militant democratic 
wing of the party. The patience of the Clear Grits was 
at last exhausted. The Hon. Malcolm Cameron, the 
most prominent member of the group in the Assembly, 
threw up his position in the Government, as a protest 
against the failure of Mr. Baldwin to settle the question 
of clergy reserves. Throughout the province many of 
the local Radical leaders, such as Peter Perry, Caleb 
Hopkins, Dr. John Rolph, and WilHam MacDougal of 
The Examiner, assumed an attitude of open hostility 
to the Government. Although not formally with- 
drawing from the Reform Party, the Clear Grits 
practically set up an independent political organization 
with a distinct party press. The principles of the 
party were derived almost exclusively from the demo- 
cracy of the United States. Their chief demands were 
for the secularization of the clergy reserves, the re- 
trenchment of public expenditure, the reform of the 
judicial system, and the adoption of popular elective 
institutions. But to none of these proposals did the 
Government lend an attentive ear. 

With the grant of responsible Government, Baldwin 
regarded his constitutional labours as practically com- 
plete. But to the Clear Grits, Ministerial responsibility 
was not an end in itself, but merely a means for the 
attainment of the ultimate democratic ends of the 
party. They could not help but contrast the material 
prosperity, religious freedom, and liberal institutions of 
the United States with the industrial depression, and 
the undemocratic political and ecclesiastical regime at 
home. They were weary of the long unending struggle 
against the forces of privilege within the province, 
backed up by the sovereign authority of the petty 

The Movement in Upper Canada 257 

tyrants of Downing Street. So long as Canada re- 
mained a dependency of a distant empire, and subject 
to the rule of the Colonial Office, there appeared, to 
many of the Radicals, to be but small prospect of the 
attainment of their political demands. 

Much had been expected from the advent of the 
Reform Ministry to office, but events had proved that 
even their own political leaders had fallen a prey to the 
fatal influence of English officialism. In their bitter 
disappointment over the failure of the Government to 
relieve their grievances, the thoughts of many of the 
extremists naturally turned towards the possible 
emancipation of the colony from the control of the 
powers at Westminster, and its contingent incorpora- 
tion in the United States, in case that relief could not 
be secured by any other means. " Recent events," 
said The Examiner, " tell us that responsible Govern- 
ment, as it now exists, is an illusion, a mockery, and a 
snare — only Downing Street law under a new name. 
We must have a Government that is really representa- 
tive and responsible, if we ever hope to attain to a state 
of public tranquillity. If we cannot have it while a 
colony, we shall unequivocally labour to obtain and 
secure it through our independence as a state." ' 

Throughout the summer and fall of 1849, the Clear 
Grit press, especially The Toronto Examiner and The 
Hamilton Provincialist, was carrying on with much 
success a guerilla warfare against the Government. 
Their indictments of the extravagance and inefficiency 
of the administrative and judicial branches of the 
Government reflected the bitter disappointment and 
chagrin of many of the public at finding that their 
taxes were in no wise diminished in consequence of the 
depression of trade ; while their demand for elective 
institutions was warmly welcomed by the growing 
democracy of the country, who had long been weary of 
the bureaucracy of the old regime. But the funda- 
mental grievance of the party was the maintenance of 
^ The Examiner, June 26, 1850. 


258 The Movement in Upper Canada 

the clergy reserves. All other grievances could be 
patiently borne for a time without exciting a demand 
for separation, but the burden of a system of ecclesi- 
astical privilege, which was inseparably bound up with 
the imperial connection, tried the loyalty of the 
progressive Reformers to the breaking-point. " If," 
declared The Examiner,^ " the Imperial and Colonial 
Govemtnents want to create a universal shout from 
Gaspe to Sandwich for annexation to the Republic, 
they have only to tell the people that the clergy reserves 
are to be held intact by imperial power. , . . The 
remedy to which every eye will then be directed will 
most unquestionably be annexation to the United 
States." A similar opinion was entertained by The 
Provincialist and other Clear Grit organs. 

The Radical press throughout the province was 
doing everything in its power to force the Govern- 
ment to deal with the allied questions of the rectories 
and the clergy reserves. The majority of the party 
still believed that the evils of the country could be 
best relieved by the united efforts of all the Reformers 
rather than by creating a schism in the ranks, or by 
advocating such an extreme policy as annexation ; but, 
at the same time, they intimated in unmistakable 
terms that Mr. Baldwin must carry out their election 
pledges in respect to the clergy reserves, under pain of 
disrupting the party, and forcing the Clear Grit mem- 
bers into an attitude of opposition to the British 

The whole question was brought to an issue in the 
bye-election in the third Riding of York. Mr. Peter 
Perry, the prospective candidate of the Reformers, was 
a prominent member of the Clear Grit wing of the 
party, which was exceptionally strong in the con- 
stituency. Although he had made no public declara- 

* The Examiner, November 14, 1849. 

' The Hamilton Provincialist of November 7, 1849, declared that 
it was still opposed to annexation, if Baldwin would carry out his 
r)rQmise to deal with the clergy reserves. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 259 

tion on the subject of annexation, his views were 
generally understood to be favourable to a union with 
the United States. The scattered Annexationists of 
the Riding and the organs of that party claimed him 
as an adherent, if not a member, of their own group. 
This anomalous situation of affairs called forth, as we 
have seen, the masterful letter of Baldwin in which he 
disavowed the Annexationists and all their friends. 

Mr. Perry was informed, in effect, that the Govern- 
ment would not recognize an annexation candidate 
as a member of the Reform Party. Notwithstanding 
the personal character of this communication. Perry 
vouchsafed no reply. Shortly after, a deputation of 
his constituents waited on him to invite him to become 
a candidate for the Riding. One of the members of the 
deputation — a British connectionist — took occasion to 
question the prospective member in regard to his views 
on the subject of annexation, with which his name had 
recently been very freely connected.^ The answer of 
Mr. Perry was distinctly non-committal. He gave his 
word that, if elected, he would not advocate annexa- 
tion during the coming term of service, and further 
pledged himself to resign his seat, in case his opinion 
as to the present inadvisability of an annexation 
propaganda should undergo a change. Annexation, 
in his judgment, was not an immediate issue in this 
election. He assured the deputation that the electors 
would be given a full opportunity to discuss and vote 
upon the question before its final determination by 
Parliament. This answer was apparently satisfactory 
to the deputation, for Mr. Perry was duly adopted as 
the candidate of the party.* 

But The Globe was by no means satisfied with the 
equivocal attitude of Mr. Perry. By his recent con- 
duct, it declared, he had practically ranged himself 
with the opponents of the British connection, and for 
this reason alone his election should be opposed in the 

^ The Toronto Globe, November i, 1849. 
2 Ibid., October 30, 1849. 

260 The Movement in Upper Canada 

most strenuous manner. This was not a question of 
party, for all loyalists should unite in frowning down 
the annexation movement.* A few days later, how- 
ever. The Globe considerably modified its belligerent 
tone. It was now content to call upon Mr. Perry to 
define his position more clearly, in justice to the 
Reform Party, since there was reason to fear, from the 
boastings of the Annexationists, that he was not faith- 
ful in his allegiance to the Crown. 

The agitation of The Globe stirred up the ultra-loyal 
Reformers of the Riding to consider the possibility of 
putting a candidate in the field against Mr. Perry. A 
meeting was accordingly called, at which delegates 
were present from four of the five townships of the 
east Riding, to choose a candidate in the Reform 
interest. A motion to the effect that Mr. Perry be 
adopted as the nominee of the party found no seconder. 
A deputation was appointed to wait upon Mr. Perry 
and present the Toronto anti-annexation manifesto 
for his signature. In case of his refusal to sign the 
same, Mr. William Clark, a prosperous local farmer, was 
asked to accept the nomination of the convention, and 
the delegates pledged themselves to do everything in 
their power to secure his return to Parliament. 

In accordance with their instructions, Messrs. 
McMaster and Hall, the representatives of the con- 
vention, waited upon Mr. Perry ; but the latter firmly 
refused to sign the desired declaration, on the ground 
that it would tend to suppress the free discussion of a 
question which was worthy of the consideration of the 
people of the province. Annexation, in his opinion, 
was the ultimate destiny of Canada, but he did not 
think that the time had yet arrived for it. He renewed 
his pledge that he would oppose the policy of annexa- 
tion, if the question were brought up in the coming 
Parliament. Retrenchment and reciprocity with the 
United States would, in his judgment, best serve the 
interests of the public for the present. Mr. Perry was 
> The Toronto Globe, October 23, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 261 

a shrewd politician. He clearly saw that no person 
could be elected in the Riding as an avowed Annexa- 
tionist. Annexation sentiment in Upper Canada was 
as yet, according to his own declaration, " without 
sufficient moral courage to give free voice to its political 
convictions." He had no intention of blocking his 
political future by a premature declaration of faith ; 
but, at the same time, he stood ready to espouse the 
cause, as soon as it gave promise of ultimate success. 

The successful opportunist tactics of Mr. Perry 
placed The Globe in a most embarrassing position. It 
would gladly have opposed his candidature tooth and 
nail, but his personal strength in the Riding was such 
that it was extremely inexpedient to oppose his elec- 
tion, and so court almost certain defeat. It felt itself 
in honour bound to support Mr. Clark, as an anti- 
annexationist candidate, but it did not wish further to 
antagonize the Clear Grit element in the party by an 
uncompromising opposition. There was already grave 
danger of an open disruption in the ranks of the Re- 
formers, and it was feared that an internecine struggle 
in the third Riding might spread to the remainder of 
the province, and not only accentuate the existing 
differences between the two wings of the party, but 
might also, in the event of the defeat of the Ministerial 
candidate, deal a dangerous blow to the prestige of the 
Government, and even endanger its position. Under 
these circumstances, it adopted a coaxing tone towards 
Mr. Perry and his supporters, in the hope of avoiding 
an open conflict on the question of annexation. The 
situation was relieved, however, by Mr. Clark's de- 
clination of the proffered nomination, which left a 
clear field to Mr. Perry. 

The Clear Grit press had been following the contest 
with peculiar interest. Mr. Perry was fighting the 
battle of the party with singular adroitness and success, 
and they could well afford to enjoy the discomfiture of 
their erstwhile friends, and the happy turn of events 
in their favour. The Provincialist took the keenest de- 

262 The Movement in Upper Canada 

light in poking fun at the hapless struggle of The Globe 
in endeavouring to extricate itself from a humiliating 
position. The Examiner supported the candidature 
of Perry, whether as an Annexationist or otherwise, in 
view of the favourable effect it would undoubtedly have 
upon English public opinion. The Journal and Ex- 
press warmly commended the action of Perry in refusing 
to sign the counter-manifesto. No candidate, it de- 
clared, ought to pledge himself in regard to future 
issues, since he was responsible only for his present 
course of conduct and not for distant contingencies. 
The Long Point Advocate took strong exception to the 
pronouncement of Baldwin that the Ministry, if de- 
feated, were prepared to support any Government 
or party in opposition to annexation. Rather than 
sustain, it declared, a Tory Government, even though 
favourable to the British connection, " the Reformers 
generally would prefer independence or annexation." 

The embarrassment of the Government occasioned 
much glee in the Conservative ranks. The conduct of 
Perry was regarded as a personal rebuff to Baldwin, 
and as a severe blow to his authority as a political 
leader ; it afforded conclusive evidence of the rapid 
breaking up of the Reform Party. Tory journalists 
accused the Executive of postponing the issue of the 
writ for the third Riding until it was considered safe to 
hold the election. The Government, The Colonist ex- 
claimed, had shown its weakness in the face of treason.* 
Under the circumstances, it was considered the part 
of wisdom not to put a Tory candidate in the field, 
but to allow the two factions of the Reformers to fight 
it out. 

The writ of election was issued soon after in due 
course. On nomination day. Colonel Thompson pre- 
sented himself as a candidate ; but, on finding merely 
a handful of voters in his favour, discreetly decided to 
withdraw. Mr. Perry was thereupon declared elected 
by acclamation. The result of the election was natur- 
* The Toronto Colonist, November 13, 1849. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 263 

ally represented by the annexation press as a splendid 
triumph for their cause. The Independent claimed that 
Perry was prepared to make himself the champion of 
independence and annexation at the next general 
election. It expressed its cordial approval of his 
decision to oppose any immediate action in regard to 
annexation, since, in the opinion of The Independent, 
it would be most ill advised to force the question pre- 
maturely upon Parliament, Similar considerations of 
political expediency, it explained, had guided the action 
of the Annexationists at the recent League convention 
in determining not to bring the matter to an issue in 
that body. At the present time, it boasted, there were 
not less than fifteen members of Parliament who were 
in the same position as Mr. Perry, and the coming 
bye-elections in Megantic and Norfolk would doubtless 
increase that number. Such, it concluded, were the 
splendid results of two brief months of agitation. 

L'Avenir, likewise, confidently asserted that there 
were a large number of Reformers in Upper Canada 
who were heartily sick of the imperial connection, and 
would gladly welcome a change of allegiance. The 
Clear Grits, in truth, were striving to gain the same 
end as the Annexationists, though by somewhat differ- 
ent means. When the reforms, now so eagerly sought 
by the Clear Grits, were once obtained, " England," it 
concluded, " would hesitate even less than now to give 
up Canada. . . . The Annexationists, therefore, should 
support the Clear Grit Party and their principles with 
all their might." ' 

The position of the Radical wing of the Reformers 
was extremely critical. The rank and file of the party 
were undoubtedly loyal at heart, but, at the same 
time, deeply dissatisfied with the existing condition of 
affairs. There was indeed grave danger that this 
dissatisfaction at the continual postponement of re- 
forms might develop into an open hostility to the 
British connection. The election of Peter Perry was 

* h'Avenir, April 13, 1850. 

264 The Movement in Upper Canada 

truly symptomatic ; it revealed alike the strength of 
the Clear Grit Party and their political tendencies. 

At this crucial moment there appeared an interesting 
series of letters from the exiled leader of the party, 
William Lyon Mackenzie, in which he warned his former 
followers against the perils of annexation. His sojourn 
in New York had wrought a disillusionment. Ameri- 
can democracy, as it presented itself in the form of 
political corruption, crass materialism, and human 
slavery, filled his soul with righteous indignation. He 
was convinced that the vaunted liberty of the United 
States was merely a sham ; that neither the grandilo- 
quent principles of the Declaration of Independence 
nor the unctuous guarantees of the American Constitu- 
tion assured to the private citizen the same measure of 
civil and political freedom as was enjoyed by the 
humblest Canadian subject under the British Con- 
stitution and the much-maligned Act of Union. The 
growing agitation in favour of separation afforded him 
an excellent opportunity of conveying to his former 
Canadian friends and adherents his opinions in regard 
to annexation. In an open letter to The Toronto 
Examiner, he stated that, although he was not prepared 
to oppose the reported rapid strides of annexation 
sentiment, nevertheless, had he been able to settle 
in Canada " every effort man could make would 
have been made by me, not only to keep Canada 
separated from this country, but also to preserve the 
British connection, and to make that connection worth 
preserving. Failing in that, I would have quietly left 
the scene, when I could not be useful." ' 

The voice of Mackenzie still exerted considerable 
influence over the Clear Grit Party, many of the older 
members of which were numbered among his former 
followers, and some of whom still looked upon him as 
their political chieftain. The timely advice of Macken- 
zie, together with the resolute stand of Baldwin and 
Cameron, served to restrain the rash tendencies of the 

» The Examiner, January 31, 1850. 

The Movement in Upper Canada 265 

extreme section of the party. The tone of the Clear 
Grit press gradually veered round from an ultra- 
friendly to a more critical attitude towards the United 
States, and, in the end, to a loyal support of the British 
connection. The gradual revival of trade, the un- 
toward turn of American affairs, and the more favour- 
able prospect of provincial reforms, all contributed to 
allay the spirit of disaffection among the Clear Grits. 



Cobden's Bradford speech encourages Annexationists — Earl Grey, 
Secretary for the Colonies — Despatch condemning annexation 
— Criticism of annexation papers — Approval of loyalist press 
— The French-Canadian papers — Embarrassment of the Annexa- 
tionists — The Executive Council of the Association — The 
Third Address — Criticism of Address — Speech of Lord John 
Russell — Pronouncement of Lord Elgin on imperial relations 
— Municipal elections in Montreal — Success of annexation 
— Municipal elections in Montreal — Success of annexation 
candidates — Waning interest of the Association — Protectionist 
sentiment of business community — Character of movement in 
Montreal — Election in Sherbrooke County — Annexation the 
issue — Nomination day — Victory of Mr. Sanborn — Opinion of 
Lord Elgin regarding the victory of the Annexationists — Re- 
action in the Eastern Townships — Attitude of the French - 
Canadians — Hostihty of clergy to annexation — Annexation 
and the Seigneurial system — Failure of movement among 
French-Canadians — Agitation of French-Canadians in United 
States for annexation — The New York Association — Address 
to French-Canadians — Organization of American Associations 
— Influence on movement in Canada — Political feeling in 
Upper Canada — Election in London — Speech of Hon. F. Hincks 
— Address of Judge Draper to Grand Jury — Criticism of Earl 
Grey's despatch — The Annexation Association of Toronto — 
Address of the Association — Disappointment of the Annexa- 
tionists — Manifesto of Colonel Prince in favour of independence 
— Petition for independence — Suspension of The Independent — 
Results of the movement. 

THE hopes of the Montreal Annexationists were 
greatly stimulated by the favourable tone of 
some of the leading English papers, especially 
those of the Manchester School. The Morning 
Advertiser went so far as to declare that the Government 
had come to the conclusion that the severance of 
the imperial tie, in the case of Canada, would be bene- 


The Decline of the Movement 267 

ficial to the mother country, and that it would lay 
proposals to that effect before Parliament at the coming 
session. The Radical pronouncement of Mr. Cobden at 
Bradford afforded special encouragement to the Mont- 
real Association. In this celebrated speech, he dis- 
tinctly advocated the extension of the largest measure 
of self-government to the colonies with a view to their 
ultimate independence at the earliest possible moment. 
He called for the immediate withdrawal of any further 
military or ecclesiastical aid to the colonies, by which 
simple economy an annual sum of £15,000,000 would 
be saved to the imperial treasury. " I want to see this 
country abandon the mere political connection between 
the colonies and herself, and trust to our common 
literature, our common language, which will give to 
the Saxon race unity throughout the world if they 
do nothing now to prevent that understanding." 

In the colonies, the views of Cobden carried scarcely 
less weight than in England. In Canada, he was justly 
looked upon as one of the most influential leaders in 
English political life. By the Reformers, in particular, 
he was held in the highest honour for his liberal and 
enlightened statesmanship. His views in respect to 
the colonies were admittedly Radical, but it was con- 
fidently believed by many of the colonists that they 
would be accepted by the Whig Government in due 
course of time. If Cobden had been in Canada, The 
Courier triumphantly declared, he and his friends would 
have signed the manifesto. What Canada wanted was 
not so much retrenchment or elective institutions 
as freedom of trade with the United States, which could 
only be secured by annexation. The colonial system 
might, it concluded, be bolstered up for a time, but 
annexation would come at last. 

But the roseate hopes of the Annexationists in respect 
to the attitude of the British Government were doomed 
to disappointment. In matters of colonial policy, 
Cobden did not voice the opinion of the English Govern- 
ment or nation. A man of different calibre and 

268 The Decline of the Movement 

different principles was at the head of the colonial 
office. Earl Grey, the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, was a Liberal Imperialist. He favoured the 
extension of the principles of self-government to the 
colonies, but was firmly convinced of the paramount 
necessity of maintaining the integrity of the empire. 
A man of strong and imperious will, though of liberal 
sentiments, he did not hesitate in his administration of 
colonial affairs to play at times the part of a just but 
benevolent dictator. The didactic despatches which 
he was accustomed to address to the colonies were a 
true reflection of his firm political convictions in matters 
of colonial policy. 

The Colonial Secretary had been following the 
despatches of Lord Elgin with a keen and critical 
interest. The growth of the annexation movement 
afforded him an excellent opportunity of intervening 
in Canadian affairs ; and on this occasion he intervened 
with more than his accustomed force and authority. 
In a despatch to the Governor-General of January 9, 
1850, he clearly and decisively set forth the determina- 
tion of the English Government to oppose the annexa- 
tion movement with all the forces at its command. 
After acknowledging the receipt of many loyal ad- 
dresses from various colonial bodies. His Lordship 
declared : 

" With regard to the Address to the people of Canada 
in favour of severing the province from the British 
Dominions, for the purpose of annexing it to the 
United States, which forms the subject of the 3rd of 
these despatches, I have to inform you that Her 
Majesty approves of your having dismissed from her 
service those who have signed a document which is 
scarcely short of treasonable in its character. Her 
Majesty confidently relies on the loyalty of the great 
majority of her Canadian subjects, and she is therefore 
determined to exert all the authority which belongs to 
her, for the purpose of maintaining the connection of 
Canada with this country, being persuaded that the 

The Decline of the Movement 269 

permanence of that connection is highly advantageous 
to both. 

" Your Lordship will, therefore, understand that you 
are commanded by Her Majesty to resist, to the utmost 
of your power, any attempt which may be made to 
bring about the separation of Canada from the British 
Dominions, and to mark in the strongest manner Her 
Majesty's displeasure with all those who may directly 
or indirectly encourage such a design. 

" And if any attempt of this kind should take such a 
form that those who are guilty of it may, according to 
such advice as you may receive from your law advisers, 
be made responsible for their conduct in a court of 
justice, you will not fail to take the necessary measures 
for bringing them to account." 

The despatch of Earl Grey aroused the keenest in- 
terest among the Canadian public, as the first official 
expression of the policy of the home Government to- 
wards the annexation movement. It was severely con- 
demned, and in turn as warmly commended, according 
to the political views of the critics. Some of the an- 
nexation journals vented their spleen upon the Colonial 
Secretary in a most offensive manner. They indig- 
nantly repudiated the veiled accusation of treason, 
flaunted his mild menaces of coercion, and flung back 
at his lordship the charge of seeking to stifle freedom 
of thought by the employment of dictatorial methods. 
L'Avenir and The Herald were especially outspoken in 
their criticism of the tone and subject-matter of the 
despatch. The former professed to see in the despatch 
a mere reflex of the false representations of the Gover- 
nor-General to the effect that he had crushed the 
annexation movement. 

The Annexationists were not surprised at the reply 
since they had no expectation of a favourable opinion 
from the English Government, until the provincial 
legislation should adopt resolutions in favour of a 
union with the United States, It expressed the con- 
viction that the Canadian people would not meekly 

270 The Decline of the Movement 

submit to the dictation of Downing Street, as recom- 
mended by the ministerial press.' The Herald sar- 
castically remarked : " We may surely be permitted 
to say that it is not for England, and far less for Lord 
Grey to tell us that the permanence of the connection 
is highly advantageous to us, but to convince us that 
it is so." It practically denied the right of the mother- 
land to a voice in the determination of the future 
of the colony. " The Annexationists," it concluded, 
" are not children to be bullied by misrepresentation 
and falsehood." 

The remaining annexation journals were much more 
discreet in their utterances. The criticism of The 
Courier was couched in moderate language. " Lord 
Grey's opinion is good so far as it goes ; it is the 
opinion of an individual — nay, for argument's sake, 
we will grant that it is the opinion of the Imperial 
Ministry; but neither Lord Grey, nor the adminis- 
tration of which he is a member, are the Parlia- 
ment or people of England, and it is to them that the 
people of Canada must look for a decision in this 

But the despatch of the Colonial Secretary had 
gravely shaken the overweening confidence of The 
Courier in the inevitableness of annexation. " We do 
not say," it continued, " that a contingency may not 
arise which will prevent, or rather render unnecessary, 
any further agitation for Canadian independence and 
its consequence — annexation. If our commercial 
affairs be set right — by the passage of a Reciprocity Act 
in the Legislature of the United States, and under the 
recent alterations in the Navigation Laws ; if England 
consents to surrender the Civil List, and to allow us to 
reduce the salary of the Governor-General to something 
like an American standard, or if not, to defray his salary 
herself, as is demanded by the people of Jamaica ; if 
she allows us to make other reductions which are 
necessary ; if she grants us an entirely elective Legis- 
* L'Avenir, February 15, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 271 

lature, and consents to a general expansion of the 
elective principle, and, in fact, gives us entirely the 
management of our internal affairs ; why then, it is 
possible that we may find it to our advantage to cease the 
present agitation." The great majority of the Annexa- 
tionists, it concluded, were as loyal as their pro-British 
opponents, and more so than the Government which 
had driven them into the advocacy of a political union 
with their neighbours.' 

The criticism of The Witness was even more interest- 
ing. It deplored the tone and style of his lordship's 
despatch, as unworthy of a British minister. The 
people of Canada were as capable of judging their own 
interests as the gentlemen of Downing Street, and they 
strongly resented the language of menace and the 
threats of coercion which had been addressed to them. 
There was, it asserted, " a splendid opportunity to 
evince the sincerity of men's professions." The An- 
nexationists had professed their adherence to the 
principle of peace, and, however much their views 
might be misrepresented, they ought not to resort to 
menaces in return. " Rather let there be a public and 
renewed adhesion to the amicable and peaceful princi- 
ples they have already announced," and a disclaimer 
of all attempts to accomplish their ends by means 
of violence. "If," it concluded in a sanctimonious 
strain, " Annexationists calmly and patiently commit 
their cause to Him who ruleth all things, and doeth all 
things well. He will, if He sees fit, easily bring it about 
with the consent and goodwill of all parties, for He 
has the hearts of all men in His hands ; and if He does 
not see meet to bring it about thus, surely no one 
should attempt to bring it about otherwise." 

On the other hand, the loyalist press received the 
despatch with the heartiest commendations. The An- 
nexationists, The Gazette declared, had been entirely 
mistaken as to the state of English opinion. The 
agitation, it admitted in a conciliatory tone, had done 
1 Quoted from Tht Pilot, February 7, 1850. 

272 The Decline of the Movement 

much good within certain limits, especially in revealing 
to the public the dangerous situation of the country's 
affairs. But unfortunately some of the annexation 
leaders and papers had gone too far in attacking the 
English Government. Now that the attention of the 
British authorities had been attracted to colonial 
affairs, it behoved the Annexationists to unite with the 
League to secure the necessary reforms in colonial 
government. The despatch, The Pilot gleefully de- 
clared, placed the Annexationists in a bad fix. The 
leaders of that party, especially Messrs. Rose and 
Johnston, would now have an opportunity of putting 
into effect their open declarations that they would 
acquiesce in the decision of the English Government. 
The despatch should give a coup de grace to the annexa- 
tion cause. The manifesto, it concluded, could not now 
secure one-half the signatures which were originally 

The French ministerial press very cleverly attempted 
to interpret the despatch as an expression of the per- 
sonal will of the sovereign. La Minerve discussed the 
despatch under the caption, " La Reine contre I'an- 
nexion." Le Canadien warned its readers that the 
Annexationists had carried their agitation too far to be 
stopped by the refusal of the English Government to 
accede to their demand for separation. " Pas de 
duperie dans une affaire aussi s^rieux ; que chacun 
sache, et soit bien averti que, si nous demandons 
I'ind^pendence, il faudra que nous I'ayons bon gre, mal 
gr6, et au prix d'une guerre avec le m^tropole, si elle 
rejecte notre demande." A similar opinion was re- 
echoed in Le Journal de Quebec. " To convince two 
million people that their happiness, moral and material, 
can only be obtained by independence, to impress this 
strongly on their convictions, and then to pretend that 
they will stop peaceably and resignedly before a re- 
fusal, is to give the lie to history and to one's own 
conscience." The religious papers were quick to use 

» Th* Pilot, February 5, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 273 

the despatch as a fitting text with which to admonish 
the faithful to remember their true allegiance to the 
Crown. Les Melanges Religieux voiced the opinion 
that the Annexationists should now drop their agitation 
in deference to the wishes of the Queen ; any further 
agitation would give the appearance of open disloyalty 
and rebellion. 

The despatch of the Colonial Secretary had a very 
clarifying effect ; it swept away many of the obscuri- 
ties and misconceptions under cover of which the An- 
nexationists had sheltered themselves, and successfully 
carried on their propaganda. The language of the 
despatch was too plain-spoken to be misinterpreted ; 
henceforth the Annexationists could not pretend that 
the English Government was either favourable or 
indifferent to the separation of the colonies. The 
despatch brought the affairs of the party to a crisis. 
Should they, according to their open professions, 
acquiesce in the decision of the Colonial Secretary, or 
should they turn revolutionaries ? This was the vital 
issue which they were called upon to decide. Some of 
the members of the party were admittedly Simon Pure 
republicans, others were personally hostile to Great 
Britain, but the great majority of the party still re- 
tained the kindliest feelings towards the motherland, 
and were strongly averse to any form or even the 
appearance of revolutionary activity. 

The despatch afforded the moderate element of the 
party a favourable opportunity of withdrawing from 
the association, on reasonable grounds, and with a good 
grace. In view of the unexpected turn of affairs, quite 
a number of the members saw fit quietly to drop out of 
the ranks. But the leaders of the party were strong- 
minded men . Having set their hands to the plough, they 
were not inclined to turn back at the appearance of new 
obstacles. Some of them had borne the censure and 
penalties of the Governor-General, and all of them had 
stood the personal criticisms of their fellow country- 
men without flinching ; they were not now to be 


274 The Decline of the Movement 

intimidated by the disapproval or menaces of the 
Secretary of State. 

For some time past the direction of the affairs of the 
association had fallen into the hands of the Executive 
Council. On this occasion, they did not even trouble 
to call a meeting of the members to discuss the new 
situation, but determined to act for themselves, in 
the name of the association.* A bold but somewhat 
laboured manifesto was the result. The Council went 
even farther than The Herald in affecting to treat his 
lordship's opinion as a mere personal whim without 
the sanction of the British nation ; they adroitly 
maintained that it would be a dangerous principle to 
permit the use of the Queen's name to suppress the 
lawful discussions of any public question in the colony ; 
and they demanded, in effect, that the English Govern- 
ment should stand aside, and permit them to carry on 
their propaganda without official opposition. This 
interesting document ran as follows : 

To THE People of Canada 

The Annexation Association of Montreal feel it in- 
cumbent on them to address you in reference to the 
following despatch from Earl Grey, purporting to con- 
tain the views of Her Most Gracious Majesty on the 
question of the peaceable separation of Canada from 
Great Britain and its Annexation to the United States. 
[Here follows Earl Grey's despatch.] 

The Association have carefully reconsidered their 
two addresses, and they do not find in them the 
language of menace or sedition ; but a calm, dispassion- 
ate statement of social evils under which Canada 
suffers, and a remedy, by constitutional means, sug- 
gested for consideration. It is to the people of Canada 
that these statements have been made, and it is for you 
to decide whether the remedy proposed is one that is 
advantageous or worthy of being referred to the 

^ The Gazette insinuated they feared to convene the association 
because so many of the members disapproved of their policy. 

The Decline of the Movement 275 

British nation for their assent. It is impossible for 
this Association to regard the expression of Earl Grey's 
opinion as conveying the decision of the British nation. 
Even should the British Parliament support his lord- 
ship, we conceive that their action will be premature, 
until the question has been constitutionally brought 
before them as approved by a majority of the repre- 
sentatives of the Canadian people. The Association 
deny the right of the Colonial Secretary to offer, by 
anticipation, the decision of the British Government 
on a question that is not constitutionally before them ; 
and they further desire to point out the danger that 
may hereafter arise, if the principle be once admitted 
that the Queen's name and authority can be introduced 
to suppress the lawful discussion of any political 
question in the colony. The British people have a 
proper and constitutional opportunity of expressing 
their assent or dissent to any colonial measures, and it 
is a subject of painful surprise to this Association, that 
Earl Grey should have encroached on the rights of Her 
Majesty's Canadian subjects, in venturing to decide 
that any question was unfit to be brought by them 
before their representatives. The Association are neces- 
sarily ignorant of the terms in which the Governor- 
General brought their address under the notice of the 
Colonial Secretary, and how far those terms justify 
his lordship in giving a character to their proceedings 
which they have distinctly denied from the outset. 
The Association now reiterate that they seek the attain- 
ment of their object only with the free and willing 
consent of Great Britain, that they never will urge the 
subject by other than calm appeals to the reason and 
intelligence of their fellow subjects — first in Canada, 
afterwards in England — and that they have no sym- 
pathy with any who hold other sentiments than 

While reasserting the position the Association have 
assumed, they feel that the language of the Colonial 
Secretary requires from them the discharge of a further 

276 The Decline of the Movement 

and a higher duty, in denying all right, on his part, to 
attempt to punish men for the assertion of opinion. 

The free discussion of all subjects is a right inherent 
in every man under a free form of Government, and 
the power to advocate, by constitutional means and 
moderate counsels, changes of any description is the 
great safeguard against violence and rebellion. The 
moment an attempt is made to coerce the free expres- 
sion of public opinion, the most sacred right of the 
people is attacked, and the groundwork laid for any 
and every stretch of despotic power. The Association 
ask their fellow citizens whether, in all they have 
suggested or done, they have not most carefully 
avoided advocating aught that could in the slightest 
degree infringe the laws, or warrant the interference of 
Executive Authority. And, feeling that their course 
has been temperate and legal, they deny the right of 
Earl Grey to use towards them the language of his 
despatch, or to interfere in their discussions of any 
subject affecting the interests of Canada. The Associa- 
tion, therefore, in treat their fellow subjects not to allow 
any feeling of hostility to the policy of those who now 
address them, to blind them to the consequences of 
admitting the position assumed by Lord Grey ; but to 
look only at the great principle involved. 

Let the people of Canada, to whom the Association 
addressed themselves, decide whether the course of 
Earl Grey is in accordance with the constitution granted 
to them, and whether his approval or disapproval ought 
to affect the legal discussion of any subject intended 
to be brought before the Legislature of this country. 

Let them say whether Responsible Government is 
only a name, or is intended to assume that freedom of 
opinion, dear to every British subject. To you, then, 
the people of Canada, we appeal ; and we ask whether 
we shall be compelled to brood in silence over the evils 
this country labours under, or whether we have the 
right temperately to discuss those evils and their cure, 
free from the threat of punishment, and independent 

The Decline of the Movement 277 

alike of the interference and control of any others than 
those who are constitutionally responsible to you. In 
conclusion, the Association would remark, that the 
subject of discussion has been obscured by the mode 
adopted for checking the expression of public opinion, 
and this Association in the broad assertion of an un- 
deniable right, maintain that they will not be diverted 
from the legal and constitutional course which they 
have adopted, in full reliance that whenever the ques- 
tion is brought before Great Britain, by our responsible 
ministers, their application will be treated with that 
respect and consideration which its magnitude and 
importance demand. In the deliberate adoption of 
this course, the Association conceive that they are 
defending one of the greatest bulwarks of their country's 
liberties, and they claim the support of all true friends 
of Canada, whatever be their views of the policy the 
Association seek to promote. 

John Redpath, President. 
R. McKay i ^ - • 

The patent weakness of the manifesto exposed the 
Annexationists to the open attacks of the loyalist press 
of the city. The latter did not fail to point out, with 
manifest glee, that the much-advertised great popular 
movement had become a mere cabal. " This comedy," 
Le Canadien declared, " which has lasted for some time, 
has degenerated into a miserable farce, and does not 
now well possess the merit of exciting a laugh." The 
address had been concocted in " a hole and corner," 
where the officers of the association, a mere fraction of 
the original sixty, " met in solemn conclave to decide 
upon the destinies of Canada." The pro-British papers 
pointed out with telling force the flagrant inconsistency 
of the original submissive professions of the association 
and their subsequent defiant attitude towards the 
English Government.' 

1 The Pilot, February 9, 1850. 

278 The Decline of the Movement 

The quibbling arguments of the manifesto were 
assailed with gentle ridicule } Must the English Govern- 
ment wait, The Gazette inquired, until the Annexation- 
ists had convinced the people of Canada of their policy, 
before venturing to express an opinion on a matter 
which was vital to an empire ? To question the 
official character of his lordship's despatch was in 
effect to attack the fundamental principle of respon- 
sible government. " We are of the opinion," The 
Gazette concluded, " that many persons will pause 
before taking the ticklish path," which the association 
are now treading. The Pilot charged the Annexation- 
ists with knowing full well that the despatch of the 
Colonial Secretary truly reflected the mind of Parlia- 
ment, and that the House of Commons would heartily 
support the efforts of the Government to suppress the 
spirit of restlessness in the colonies. Notwithstanding 
the specious appeal of the manifesto to the inalienable 
right of liberty of thought, there could be no question, 
it declared, of the undoubted authority of the Crown 
to punish its colonial subjects for seditious utterances, 
or overt acts of treason. To these deep home- thrusts 
the Annexationists could only reply by reasserting the 
purity of their motives, and the strictly constitutional 
character of their agitation. The public, however, were 
inclined to look to their recent proceedings, rather than 
to their professions, for evidence of their motives and 

Just at this moment there appeared the authoritative 
declaration of Lord John Russell in the House of 
Commons, in partial confirmation of the despatch of 
the Colonial Secretary. In the course of an able ex- 
position of the colonial policy of the Government, the 
Premier reviewed the situation of Canadian affairs with 
special reference to the disturbances over the Rebellion 
Losses Bill, and the more recent political discontent. 
After a vigorous defence of the conduct of Lord Elgin, 
he turned to the consideration of the annexation 

1 The Gazette, February ii, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 279 

"movement. " I have, however, seen bitter complaints 
on this subject, and I have seen that some persons have 
even gone the length of proposing that, instead of 
remaining subjects of Her Majesty, the Province of 
Canada should be annexed to the United States. To 
that proposal, of course, the Crown could give nothing 
but a decided negative ; and I trust that although such 
a suggestion has been made, that from the character 
of several of the gentlemen who are members of the 
association, it is not their intention to push their 
project of joining a neighbouring state to the ultimate 
result of endeavouring by force of arms to effect a 
separation from Great Britain ; but that, knowing the 
determined will of the Sovereign of this country, and 
of her advisers, not to permit that project to be carried 
into effect, they will acquiesce in the decision of the 
Crown. I wonder at the same time that any persons 
who profess loyalty to the Sovereign should have 
entertained a project which, if unfortunately any inter- 
national difference occurred between this country and 
the United States of America, might have placed 
them in the position of raising their arms against 
British authority, and of fighting against the British 
flag." ^ 

But notwithstanding the firmness of this declaration, 
the principles of the Manchester School still dominated 
the mind of the Premier ; for, in concluding his speech, 
one of the most powerful of his long political career, he 
frankly acknowledged that he looked forward to the 
day when the great self-governing colonies should 
assert their independence. " I anticipate indeed with 
others, that some of the colonies may so grow in popu- 
lation and wealth that they may say : ' Our strength 
is sufficient to enable us to be independent of England. 
The link is now become onerous to us, the time is come 
when we think we can, in amity and alliance with 
England, maintain our independence.' I do not think 
that that time is yet approaching. But let us make 

* Hansard, 1850, vol. 108, p. 551. 

280 The Decline of the Movement 

them as far as possible fit to govern themselves — let us 
give them, as far as we can, the capacity of ruling their 
own affairs — let them increase in wealth and popula- 
tion ; and, whatever may happen, we of this great 
empire shall have the consolation of saying that we 
have contributed to the happiness of the world." * 

The speech of Lord John Russell awakened an interest 
in Canada second only to the recent despatch of his 
Colonial Secretary. The royalist press drove home 
with telling force his stern rebuke of the Annexationists, 
while the latter appealed with equal confidence to the 
concluding paragraph of the Premier's speech, as afford- 
ing the most complete justification of their conduct. 
Each party, in fact, selected so much of the speech as 
it found to its satisfaction, and used that as a text for 
its polemics. 

To the Governor-General, the speech of the Prime 
Minister brought the gravest anxiety. In a despatch 
to the Colonial Secretary, Lord Elgin subjected the 
speech of the Premier to the keenest political analysis. 
This despatch alone, we feel safe in saying, would 
entitle His Excellency to a place in the list of great 
imperial statesmen. In no other document do we find 
set forth more clearly the liberal principles upon which 
he hoped to build up the empire. 

" Lord John's speech on the colonies seems to have 
been eminently successful at home. It is calculated 
too, I think, to do good in the colonies ; but for one 
sentence, the introduction of which I deeply deplore — 
the sting in the tail. Alas for that sting in the tail ! 
I much fear that when the liberal and enlightened 
sentiments, the enunciation of which by one so high in 
authority is so well calculated to make the colonists 
sensible of the advantages which they derive from their 
connection with Great Britain, shall have passed away 
from their memories, there will not be wanting those 
who will remind them that, on this solemn occasion, the 
Prime Minister of England, amid the plaudits of a full 

1 Hansard, vol. io8, p. 567. 

The Decline of the Movement 281 

senate, declared that he looked forward to the day 
when the ties which he was endeavouring to render so 
easy and mutually advantageous would be severed. 
And wherefore this foreboding ? or, perhaps, I ought 
not to use the term foreboding, for really, to judge by 
the comments of the press on this declaration of Lord 
John's, I should be led to imagine that the prospect of 
these sucking democracies, after they have drained 
their old mother's life-blood, leaving her in the lurch, 
and setting up as rivals, just at the time when their 
increasing strength might render them a support instead 
of a burden, is one of the most cheering which has of 
late presented itself to the English imagination. 

' ' But wherefore, then, this anticipation — if foreboding 
be not the correct term ? Because Lord John and the 
people of England persist in assuming that the colonial 
relation is incompatible with maturity and full develop- 
ment. And is this really so incontestable a truth that 
it is a duty not only to hold but to proclaim it ? Con- 
sider for a moment what is the effect of proclaiming it 
in our case. We have on this continent two great 
empires in presence, or rather, I should say, two great 
imperial systems. In many respects there is much 
similarity between them. In so far as powers of self- 
government are concerned it is certain that our colonists 
in America have no reason to envy the citizens of any 
state in the Union. The forms differ, but it may be 
shown that practically the inhabitants of Canada have 
a greater power in controlling their own destiny than 
those of Michigan or New York, who must tolerate a 
tariff imposed by twenty other states, and pay the 
expenses of war undertaken for objects which they 
profess to abhor. And yet there is a difference between 
the two cases ; a difference, in my humble judgment, of 
sentiment rather than substance, which renders the 
one a system of life and strength, and the other a 
system of death and decay. No matter how raw and 
rude a territory may be when it is admitted as a state 
into the Union of the United States, it is at once, by the 

282 The Decline of the Movement 

popular belief, invested with all the dignity of man- 
hood, and introduced into a system which, despite the 
combativeness of certain ardent spirits from the South, 
every American believes and maintains to be immortal. 

" But how does the case stand with us ? No matter 
how great the advance of a British colony in wealth 
and civilization ; no matter how absolute the power of 
self-government conceded to it, it is still taught to 
believe that it is in a condition of pupilage from which 
it must pass before it can attain maturity. For one I 
have never been able to comprehend why, elastic as 
our constitutional system is, we should not be able, 
now more especially when we have ceased to control 
the trade of our colonies, to render the links which bind 
them to the British Crown at least as lasting as those 
which unite the component parts of the Union. . . . 
One thing is, however, indispensable to the success of 
this or any other system of Colonial Government. You 
must renounce the habit of telling the colonies that the 
colonial is a provisional existence. You must allow 
them to believe that, without severing the bonds which 
unite them to Great Britain, they may attain the 
degree of perfection, and of social and political develop- 
ment, to which organized communities of free men have 
a right to aspire. 

" Since I began this letter I have, I regret to say, 
confirmatory evidence of the j ustice of the anticipations 
I had formed of the probable effect of Lord John's 
declaration. I enclose extracts from two newspapers, 
an annexationist. The Herald of Montreal, and a quasi- 
annexationist. The Minor of Toronto. You will note 
the use they make of it. I was more annoyed, however, 
I confess, by what occurred yesterday in council. We 
had to determine whether or not to dismiss from his 
office a gentleman who is both M.P.P., Q.C., and J.P., 
and who has issued a flaming manifesto in favour, not of 
annexation, but of an immediate declaration of inde- 
pendence as a step to it. I will not say anything of my 
own opinion on the case, but it was generally contended 

The Decline of the Movement 283 

by the members of the Board that it would be im- 
possible to maintain that persons who had declared 
their intention to throw off their allegiance to the Queen, 
with a view to annexation, were unfit to retain offices 
granted during pleasure, if persons who made a similar 
declaration with a view to independence were to be 
differently dealt with. 

" Baldwin had Lord John's speech in his hand. He is 
a man of singularly placid demeanour, but he has been 
seriously ill, so possibly his nerves are shaken — at any 
rate I never saw him so much moved. ' Have you read 
the latter part of Lord J. Russell's speech ? ' he said 
to me. I nodded assent. ' For myself,' he added, ' if 
the anticipations therein expressed prove to be well 
founded, my interest in public affairs is gone for ever. 
But is it not hard upon us while we are labouring, 
through good and evil report, to thwart the designs of 
those who would dismember the empire, that our 
adversaries should be informed that the difference be- 
tween them and the Prime Minister of England is only 
one of time ? If the British Government has really 
come to the conclusion that we are a burden, to be cast 
off whenever a favourable opportunity offers, surely we 
ought to be warned.' 

" I replied that while I regretted as much as he could 
do the paragraph to which he referred, I thought he 
somewhat mistook its import : that I believed no man 
living was more opposed to the dismemberment of the 
empire than Lord J. Russell : that I did not conceive 
that he had any intention of deserting the colonies, or 
of inviting them to separate from England ; but that 
he had in the sentence in question given utterance to a 
purely speculative, and in my judgment most fallacious 
opinion, which was shared, I feared, by very many 
persons both in England and the colonies : that I held 
it to be a perfectly unsound and most dangerous theory, 
that British colonies could not attain maturity without 
separation, and that my interest in labouring with 
them to bring into full play the principles of Constitu- 

284 The Decline of the Movement 

tional Government in Canada would entirely cease if I 
could be persuaded to adopt it. I said all this, I must 
confess, however, not without misgiving, for I could not 
but be sensible that, in spite of all my allegations to 
the contrary, my audience was disposed to regard a 
prediction of this nature, proceeding from a Prime 
Minister, less as a speculative abstraction than as 
one of that class of prophecies which work their own 

" I left the Council Chamber disheartened, with the 
feeling that Lord J. Russell's reference to the manhood 
of colonies was more likely to be followed by practical 
consequences than Lamartine's famous ' quand I'heure 
aura sonne ' invocation to oppressed nationalities. It 
is possible, indeed, that I exaggerate to myself the 
probable effects of this declaration. Politicians of the 
Baldwin stamp, with distinct views and aims, who 
having struggled to obtain a Government on British 
principles, desire to preserve it, are not, I fear, very 
numerous in Canada; the great mass move on with very 
indefinite purposes, and not much inquiring whither 
they are going. Of one thing, however, I am confident : 
there cannot be any peace, contentment, progress, or 
credit in this colony while the idea obtains that the 
connection with England is a millstone about its neck 
which should be cast off as soon as it can be conveni- 
ently managed. What man in his senses would invest 
his money in the public securities of a country where 
questions affecting the very foundations on which 
public credit rests are in perpetual agitation ; or would 
settle in it at all if he could find for his foot a more 
stable resting-place elsewhere ? I may, perhaps, be 
expressing myself too unreservedly with reference to 
opinions emanating from a source which I am no less 
disposed than bound to respect. As I have the means, 
however, of feeling the pulse of the colonists in this 
most feverish region, I consider it to be always my 
duty to furnish you with as faithful a record as possible 
of our diagnostics. 

The Decline of the Movement 285 

" And, after all, may I not with all submission ask, 
is not the question at issue a most momentous one ? 
What is it indeed but this : Is the Queen of England to 
be the Sovereign of an Empire, growing, expanding, 
strengthening itself from age to age, striking its roots 
deep into fresh earth and drawing new supplies of 
vitality from virgin soils ? Or is she to be, for all 
essential purposes of might and power. Monarch of 
Great Britain and Ireland merely — her place and that 
of her line in the world's history determined by the 
productiveness of 12,000 square miles of a coal forma- 
tion, which is being rapidly exhausted, and the duration 
of the social and political organization over which she 
presides dependent on the annual expatriation, with a 
view to its eventual alienization, of the surplus swarms 
of her bom subjects ? 

"If Lord J, Russell, instead of concluding his ex- 
cellent speech with a declaration of opinion which, as 
I read it, and as I fear others read it, seems to make it 
a point of honour with the colonists to prepare for 
separation, had contented himself with resuming the 
statements already made in its course, with showing 
that neither the Government nor Parliament could have 
any object in view in their colonial policy but the good 
of the colonies, and the establishment of the relation 
between them and the mother country on the basis of 
mutual affection ; that, as the idea of maintaining a 
. Colonial Empire for the purpose of exercising dominion 
or dispensing patronage had been for some time 
abandoned, and that of regarding it as a hot-bed for 
forcing commerce and manufactures more recently 
renounced, a greater amount of free action and self- 
government might be conceded to British colonies 
without any breach of Imperial Unity, or the violation 
of any principle of Imperial Policy, than had under any 
scheme yet devised fallen to the lot of the component 
parts of any federal or imperial system ; if he had left 
these great truths to work their effect without hazard- 
ing a conjecture which will, I fear, be received as a 

286 The Decline of the Movement 

suggestion with respect to the course which certain 
wayward members of the imperial family may be 
expected to take in a contingency still confessedly 
remote, it would, I venture with great deference to sub- 
mit, in so far at least as public feeling in the colonies 
is concerned, have been safer and better. 

" You draw, I know, a distinction between separa- 
tion with a view to annexation and separation with a 
view to independence. You say the former is an act 
of treason, the latter a natural and legitimate step in 
progress. There is much plausibility doubtless in this 
position, but independently of the fact that no one 
advocates independence in these colonies except as a 
means to the end, annexation, is it really tenable ? If 
you take your stand on the hypothesis that the colonial 
existence is one with which the colonists ought to rest 
satisfied, then, I think, you are entitled to denounce, 
without reserve or measure, those who propose for 
some secondary object to substitute the Stars and 
Stripes for the Union Jack. But if, on the contrary, 
you assume that it is a provisional state, which admits 
of but a stunted and partial growth, and out of which all 
communities ought in the course of nature to strive 
to pass, how can you refuse to permit your colonies 
here, when they have arrived at the proper stage in 
their existence, to place themselves in a condition which 
is at once most favourable to their security and to their 
perfect natural development ? What reasons can you 
assign for the refusal, except such as are founded on 
selfishness, and are, therefore, morally worthless ? If 
you say that your great lubberly boy is too big for the 
nursery, and that you have no other room for him in 
your house, how can you decline to allow him to lodge 
with his elder brethren over the way, when the attempt 
to keep up an establishment for himself would seriously 
embarrass him ? " 

In pursuance of their policy of carrying on an active 
propaganda, the Annexationists interjected that issue 
into the municipal elections at Montreal. In the West 

The Decline of the Movement 287 

and St. Antoine wards, Messrs. Holmes and Atwater 
were nominated as straight annexation candidates, 
while in some of the other wards individuals were 
placed in nomination who, although not avowedly 
Annexationists or committed to that policy, were 
known or supposed to be friendly to annexation. The 
Annexationists, it was evident, were desirous of captur- 
ing the Council, and choosing the chief magistrate for 
the city. The raising of the annexation issue in 
municipal affairs was much resented by the loyalists. 
The Gazette and The Pilot agreed in condemning the 
folly of such a policy ; but, as the issue was forced upon 
them, they resolved to fight to the bitter end the efforts 
of the Annexationists to capture the city. In both the 
West and St. Antoine wards, the British connectionists 
placed loyalist candidates in the field. 

For a time the old party lines of Tories and Re- 
formers were superseded by the new alignment of 
Annexationists and Loyalists.* After an exceedingly 
close contest, marked by riotous scenes on the part of 
some Irish Annexationists, Mr. Holmes was elected by 
the narrow majority of ten, over Colonel Gugy, the 
former Councillor.* In St. Antoine ward, Mr. Fisher, 
the Loyalist candidate, withdrew, when it became 
evident that Mr. Atwater would be returned by a large 
majority. The personal popularity of the two annexa- 
tion candidates contributed largely to their success at 
the polls. This was particularly the case in St, Antoine 
ward, where Mr. Atwater received the large proportion 
of the French-Canadian votes. His views on the sub- 
ject of annexation, according to La Minerve, which 
supported his candidature, had nothing to do with 
municipal affairs, and accordingly could be safely dis- 
regarded by the French electorate. In St. Ann's ward 
(Griffith Town), the home of the Irish population, Mr. 
McGrath received the support of the Annexationists, 
and was duly elected. In the remaining wards of the 

1 The Gazette, January lo, 1850. 

" The electors of the west ward were almost all English-speaking. 

288 The Decline of the Movement 

city, the annexation candidates, including the editor of 
The Herald, retired before the opening of the polls.' 
In the Centre ward, Mr. Hull, a strong pro-Britisher, 
was elected. In brief, in three wards of the city An- 
nexationists were returned, but in the remaining six, 
annexation was not made an issue. 

The result of the elections was heralded as a great 
triumph by the annexationist press, which boasted that 
the party was successful in every ward of the city in 
which it had made a fight. The Annexationists, how- 
ever, were far from controlling the city Council. In the 
choice of the mayor a few days later, their candidate, 
Mr. Holmes, was beaten by eleven votes to five.* 
With this defeat, the question of annexation was quietly 
dropped out of municipal politics. 

The partial success of the Annexationists in the 
municipal election did not succeed, as was expected, 
in infusing new life into the party in Montreal. The 
movement in fact was slowly dying out. The oppo- 
sition of the Provincial and Imperial Governments, 
the unresponsive attitude of the United States, and the 
improvement in trade, all contributed to dampen the 
ardour of the zealots and to quiet the unrest of 
the public. After having been for some months the 
first question in Canadian politics, the annexation 
issue gradually disappeared from the arena of polemi- 
cal journalism, and was relegated to the category of 
special correspondence and abstract discussion of the 
future of the colony. 

The direction of affairs had fallen into the hands of a 
small Junta, made up, according to The Gazette, of the 
extreme elements of the party. This small council of 
eighteen arrogated all the powers of the association, and 
carried on its business in secret. The more moderate 
members of the association quietly dropped out, when 
the leaders of the party resolved to continue the agita- 
tion in spite of the opposition of the British Govem- 

' The Gazette, March 8, 1850. 
• La Minerve, March 14, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 289 

ment. This defection ruined the prospects of the 
Annexationists. An occasional speech was still made, 
or a pamphlet issued by some private member of the 
party/ but the active campaign of the association was 
over. It became the fashion on the street to speak of 
the movement as a harmless fad to be taken up or laid 
down at pleasure. Many of the signers of the mani- 
festo were now free to admit that they had taken up 
the agitation for the purpose of procurmg the recall of 
Lord Elgin, or as a means of coercing England into the 
restoration of a preferential tariff. 

The passing of The Toronto Independent was. The 
Gazette declared, no blow to the cause of annexation in 
Montreal, since but few still adhered to that political 
persuasion. The extreme character of the views of the 
Annexationists, together with the vacillating record of 
the chief organ of the party in Montreal, had brought 
discredit on the movement, and produced a popular 
reaction. The agitation, however, in the judgment of 
The Gazette, had served a good purpose in awakening 
the Enghsh and Canadian people to a sense of the evils 
from wtiich the country was suffering, though it would 
have been much better for the province if the Annexa- 
tionists had adhered to the British American League, 
instead of organizing an independent party.* 

Meantime The Courier and The Herald were gradually 
modifying the tone of their utterances. The former 
now admitted that some other remedy than annexation 
might possibly be found for the ills of the province, 
while the editorials of the latter were assuming a more 
patriotic and even distinctly nationalist character. 
Though still professing to support the principle of 
annexation. The Herald tended more and more to 
substitute the policy of protection for that of a political 
union with the United States. The changing attitude 

* De I' annexation de Canada aux Etats-Unis. Considerations prd- 
liminaires. Lecture faite devant I'Institut par L. A. Dessaules, 
April 23, 1850. 

* The Gazette, April 22, 1850. 


290 The Decline of the Movement 

of the two leading annexation organs faithfully reflected 
the shifting opinion of the mercantile community of 
the city. So striking indeed was the transition, that 
one is almost tempted to speak of the annexation origin 
of the protective policy in Montreal. Within the short 
space of four years, the fiscal views of the business men 
of the city were apparently revolutionized. The com- 
mercial interests, as we have seen, set out by opposing 
most vigorously any change in the fiscal policy of the 
motherland ; after the loss of the imperial preference, 
they ardently turned to the United States for relief. 

Undoubtedly some of the members of the association 
were genuine Annexationists, and many more hoped to 
secure in a union with the United States the benefits of 
a protective policy which were denied to them under 
the Union Jack, but it is safe to say that a still larger 
number of the business men were merely using the cry 
of annexation as a false alarm with which to frighten 
England into the restoration of protective duties. 
They were not Annexationists in reality, but out-and- 
out protectionists. When an entrance to the American 
market was denied to them by Congress, they in- 
stinctively fell back upon the policy of provincial 
protection. The history of the protective policy in 
Canada dates from the adoption of the free- trade policy 
in England. The annexation movement was one of 
the passing phases of the struggle of the business 
interests for fiscal favours. 

Notwithstanding the repeated appeals of the loyalist 
press to the Annexationists to drop their agitation, in 
view of the emphatic pronouncements of Lord John 
Russell against a voluntary surrender of the colony to 
the United States, the Annexationists resolved to keep 
up the fight. They had survived the attacks of the 
Governor-General and the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, and they were not now prepared to hoist 
the white flag on the summons of the head of the Whig 
administration. They had been greatly encouraged 
by the success of their campaign in the Eastern Town- 

The Decline of the Movement 291 

ships ; and now, just at the critical moment, a splen- 
did opportunity had arisen of demonstrating to the 
English Government and the people of Upper Canada 
the real strength of annexation sentiment in Lower 

The resignation of Mr. Gait, owing to the removal 
of the seat of Government to Toronto, brought on 
a bye-election in Sherbrooke County. An effort was 
made by some of the members of the Montreal associa- 
tion to secure the nomination of Mr. Rose of that city 
as annexationist candidate for the Riding ; but, owing 
to the preference for a local representative as against 
a comparative stranger, Mr. Sanborn, a young American 
lawyer who had taken up his residence in Canada a 
few years previously, was chosen by the nominating 
convention as the standard-bearer of the party. In his 
election address, Mr. Sanborn, who professed to run 
as an independent candidate, stated : " With reference 
to the separation of Canada from the Government of 
Great Britain, and her annexation on favourable terms 
to the States of the American Union, if peaceably 
obtained, and with the consent of the British Govern- 
ment, it is unnecessary that I should enlarge. It is 
sufficient that I have the honour to have my name 
associated with a large proportion of yours, as appended 
to the requisition lately presented to A. T. Gait, Esq." 
Although the question of annexation was admittedly 
one of primary importance to the province, he did not 
think, however, that it would be raised as a direct 
issue at the coming session of Parliament.' 

Notwithstanding the fact that there seemed at first 
but a small prospect of carrying the seat, the loyalists 
determined to put a candidate in the field, if only to 
call foolish the boast of their opponents, that they did 
not dare to contest the Riding. A satisfactory standard- 
bearer was found in the person of Mr. Cleveland, a 
prominent Tory and long-established farmer of the 
county. A careful canvass of the constituency showed 

1 The Montreal Gazette, February 6, 1850. 

292 The Decline of the Movement 

that there was a good fighting chance of his election, 
especially in view of the well-known predilection of the 
agriculturists for one of their own class. The old 
party lines were eliminated ; the struggle resolved itself 
into a battle royal between the loyalists and the 
Annexationists. There was little to choose between 
the two candidates. Both were men of intelligence and 
acknowledged probity. Mr. Sanborn had the advan- 
tage over his opponent of being first in the field, and of 
having a strong organization behind him ; on the other 
hand, he was somewhat handicapped, in the eyes of 
the farmers at least, by his youth, his profession, and 
his brief residence in the district. 

The importance and critical character of the struggle 
were quickly realized by the whole province. The An- 
nexationists succeeded in making the election a test 
of their political influence, and in focussing the atten- 
tion of the public upon the contest.* The Montreal 
association threw the whole of its strength into the 
Riding by supplying not only speakers, but funds with 
which to carry on the battle. The Montreal loyalists 
were not to be outdone. A private meeting was 
called of some of the leading British connectionists to 
determine the best means of promoting the election of 
Mr. Cleveland. The majority of those present were 
Conservatives, but it was thoroughly understood that 
all party politics were to be set aside for the time 
being, with a view to strengthening the forces which 
were fighting for the imperial connection. A week 
before the election, it was considered advisable to send 
a representative to Sherbrooke to see how the election 
was progressing. Mr. Ferris of The Gazette was duly 
chosen to undertake the mission ; but as it was feared by 
some of the members that the selection of such a promi- 
nent Tory might arouse a certain amount of suspicion 
among the Liberals of the Riding, it was determined 
that Mr. Bristow of The Pilot should accompany him. 

For the moment party and newspaper rivalries were 
^ The Montreal Gazette, February 25, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 293 

forgotten ; and, much to the amusement and scandal 
of the annexationist press, the two representatives 
travelled down to Sherbrooke together. The Pilot * 
assisted in the work of harmonizing the loyalists of the 
two parties, by strongly urging all Reformers to support 
Mr. Cleveland, notwithstanding his former Conserva- 
tive affiliations. On the other hand, the annexation 
journals professed a righteous indignation at seeing 
the editor of the leading Tory paper join hands with 
his former political opponents, to defeat a candidate 
who was running in opposition to the Government. 
The Herald came out with the foolish accusation that 
Mr. Ferris had been bought up by the Ministry, and 
that the political pilgrimage to Sherbrooke was part of 
the terms of the unholy compact. The charge was 
immediately denied by all the parties concerned, but 
nevertheless continued to do service along the side 
lines throughout the election. 

The election had lost its local character, and had 
assumed an almost provincial aspect. On both sides, 
the battle was directed from headquarters at Montreal ; 
loyalists and Annexationists alike threw all their 
energies and resources into the struggle. The Annexa- 
tionists had a decided advantage in the district by 
reason of their superior organization, and their control 
over the leading local papers. The Sherbrooke Gazette 
was rabidly annexationist in its policy, and even 
refused to publish the election notices of Mr. Cleveland. 
The Sianstead Journal had also gone over to the 
Annexationists, and The Missisquoi News threw its 
columns open to the free discussion of the question. 
The loyalist party and papers of Montreal were forced 
to intervene in the contest to strengthen the weak 
hands of their friends in the Riding. The Pilot, in 
particular, waged a fierce and merciless battle against 
the Annexationists, as a band of dangerous conspirators 
against the Reform Party. It charged them with 
hypocrisy, with flagrantly violating their professions 
^ The Pilot, February 12, 1850. 

294 The Decline of the Movement 

of affectionate regard and consideration for the wishes 
of the motherland, and with making desperate efforts 
to convince the electorate that a slave republic was 
preferable to a free monarchy, that it was better to pay 
higher taxes to Washington than to spend the revenues 
of the province at home, and that it was more honourable 
to be an insignificant state of an overgrown confedera- 
tion than a free and independent member of the world's 
greatest empire. Now that the British Government 
had spoken, all further agitation, it maintained, was 
treasonable, and should cease. The Gazette, in like 
manner, attacked the personal qualifications of Mr. 
Sanborn, and called upon all British connectionists, 
irrespective of party, to use all proper means to 
accomplish his defeat.^ 

The proceedings on nomination day were marked by 
unusual bitterness of feeling. In his election address, 
Mr. Cleveland had omitted all reference to the question 
of separation ; but, on this occasion, he emphatically 
condemned the policy of annexation, as unwarranted 
by the past generous conduct of the motherland, and 
as likely to prove injurious to the best interests of 
Canada. Mr. Sanborn declared that the primary issue 
before the electorate was annexation, and he had no 
doubt of the result. When the question of annexation 
should be properly brought before the English people 
on petition of the Colonial Legislature, he believed that 
they would readily grant the demands of the colony 
for separation. If, however, their decision should be 
averse to the aspirations of the Canadian public, the 
Annexationists would rest content with British rule ; 
and, in case of danger of attack, the motherland would 
find no more gallant defenders than they. With most 
of the Annexationists, he confessed, it was not the love 
of republican institutions which led to the demand for 
separation, but rather a dominant self-interest which 
resulted from their close geographical and commercial 
connection with the United States. Moreover, the racial 
« Th« Montreal Gazette, February 13, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 295 

antipathies of the EngHsh and French inhabitants of 
the province would never be overcome, so long as they 
retained their colonial status. As American citizens, 
they would take on a higher national existence. The 
policy of the Annexationists in Parliament, he con- 
cluded, would be to support liberal measures from 
whatever quarter they might be proposed. 

An objection was entered by some of the electors to 
the legal qualifications of Mr. Sanborn, on the ground 
that he was not a British subject ; but the protest was 
rejected by the returning officer. Mr. Ferris of Mont- 
real was refused a hearing by the Annexationists, but 
no opposition was offered to any of the other sup- 
porters of Mr. Cleveland. The loyalist speakers made 
the most of the decision of the English Government. 
They charged the Annexationists with insincerity in 
their peaceful professions, and with a design of 
stirring up a revolt among the people. The agitation, 
it was contended, had now passed beyond the stage of 
constitutional discussion into an open defiance of the 
Crown ; it had reached the bounds where any further 
opposition to the royal will would be unjustifiable and 

In the United States, both Webster and Clay had 
declared that a Congressman could not make a motion 
for the dissolution of the Union without committing 
the crime of perjury. A similar obligation of allegiance 
rested upon the members of the local legislature, an 
obligation which Mr. Sanborn refused to recognize. 
It was contended by Mr. Pope that the ills from which 
the province was suffering could be cured by local 
legislation. Canada had control over her own ex- 
penditures and fiscal policy ; she could reduce the 
salaries of her officials, and frame a tariff so as to pro- 
mote home industries. The policy of protection would, 
he maintained, be of the highest economic value to the 
producers of the country, whereas a union with the 
United States would expose them to a competition with 
their more powerful neighbours. 

296 The Decline of the Movement 

Mr. Tyrrel appealed to the American settlers of the 
district to remember their past loyalty to the Crown. 
He reminded them that Papineau, who was now the 
leader of the Annexationists, had formerly aspersed 
their honour by the statement that they had left the 
land of their fathers for personal profit, and would sell 
the land of their adoption for dollars. They had re- 
pudiated that base calumny in the past, but some of 
them apparently were now resolved to demonstrate 
its truth. Would the Canadian people, he asked, adopt 
the almighty dollar as their coat-of-arms, and exchange 
their birthright as British subjects for a mess of 
pottage ? Mr. Shortt rebuked the presumptuous folly of 
some Americans in declaring that the British colonists 
could leave the province, as they had left the American 
colonies on a past occasion, if they did not like the 
Stars and Stripes in Canada. He challenged the 
British citizenship of Mr. Sanborn, and his qualification 
to sit as a member of the Legislature. It was, indeed, 
most fitting, he declared, that an alien candidate 
should be chosen to represent the Annexationists. In 
conclusion, he appealed to the farmers of the county not 
to be led astray by a revolutionary movement which, 
if successful, would only result in a heavier burden of 
taxation, the proceeds of which would be spent outside 
of their own country.' 

The election was closely and bitterly contested. At 
the close of the polls, Mr. Sanborn was declared elected 
by a majority of 34.' Charges and counter-charges 
were made by both parties, as to the conduct of the 
election. On the part of the loyalists, it was alleged 
that some of the officials of the British American Land 
Company had unduly interfered in the contest by 
bringing pressure to bear upon their tenants, and that 
the polls were not properly conducted by certain of the 
annexation deputy returning officers ; the Annexa- 

» The Pilot, March 2, 1850. 

» Mr. Sanborn's victory was due to the large majority he received 
in Compton. 

The Decline of the Movement 297 

tionists replied with the charges that the loyalists had 
polled squatter votes, and were guilty of the liberal 
distribution of liquor to influence the electors. In 
thanking the electors for their hearty support, Mr. 
Cleveland declared that, if he had been earlier in the 
field, and if all the pro-British vote had been polled, 
he would have been duly elected, for the majority of 
the electors of the county were undoubtedly against 
annexation. It was later decided to contest the 
election on the ground of numerous irregularities on 
the part of the agents of Mr. Sanborn. 

By the annexation press the election was heralded 
as a great triumph over the combined forces of the 
Government and the opposition ; the loyalist papers, 
on the other hand, endeavoured to explain the defeat 
as due to the peculiar social and economic conditions 
of the constituency, in particular to the influence of 
the Land Company and the large body of American 
settlers.* The great majority of the Americans and 
of the ultra-Tories voted for Mr. Sanborn, while the 
most of the English-bom settlers, and the bulk of the 
Reformers, supported his opponent. The most of the 
French-Canadians, according to La Minerve, voted for 
Cleveland, and practically all would have done so, but 
for the deceit of some of the annexation agents in repre- 
senting Sanborn as the candidate of the Government. 

The result of the contest was well summed up by 
The Examiner : " It is an extraordinary fact that these 
ultra-loyal counties are the first in Lower Canada to 
elect an Annexationist. It shows a great change of 
feeling on their part. Whatever the French population 
may do, it is beyond all question that the English 
population generally favour the annexation movement." 
It was not a change in the Constitution, or the measures 
of the Government, that provoked this transformation, 
but a conviction, " whether well or ill founded, that 
the country would be more prosperous, if united to the 
States, than under its connection with England. Com- 

* The Montreal Gazette, March 15, 1850. 

298 The Decline of the Movement 

mercial considerations with them override political." 
The mass of the people did not prefer a republic to a 
monarchy ; they had no feelings against England ; 
" the question, as they insist on putting it, is between 
prosperity and ruin and decay." 

The official opinion of Lord Elgin was expressed in a 
letter * to the Colonial Secretary, notifying him of the 
election of Mr. Sanborn, " the first instance in which 
a person avowing these sentiments has been elected to 
the Canadian Parliament." 

" The constituency of the County of Sherbrooke 
comprises a considerable number of settlers from the 
United States. Mr. Sanborn belongs, I understand, to 
this class of settlers, and has only lately established 
himself in the province. That the first individual re- 
turned to the local Parliament on annexation principles 
should be himself a settler from the United States, and 
that he should represent a constituency in which this 
element enters so largely is, without doubt, a significant 
fact, and throws light on the origin and character of 
the present movement. 

" Another circumstance affecting this particular con- 
stituency cannot be passed over without notice in a 
review of the causes which have contributed to the 
result of the recent election. The British American 
Land Company are owners of a large tract of land in 
the county. Mr. Gait, the late member, is chief agent 
of the company. ... I am not able to inform your 
Lordship to what extent the direct influence of the 
company, which is considerable, may have been used 
in this election, as on this head contradictory state- 
ments are made by the opposing parties ; but, that the 
moral of the course taken by Mr. Gait in reference to 
this subject must have been great is, however, unques- 
tionable. It has been throughout the policy of the 
Annexationists to pretend that the British public is 
favourable to their view, and that the opposition made 
to them by the local and imperial Governments is inter- 
i March 23, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 299 

ested or affected. The emphatic and formal advocacy 
of annexation by the agent of a body of absentee Eng- 
lish proprietors has given, without doubt, some colour 
to this representation, and could hardly fail to tell with 
particular force in a constituency such as that of 

" My opinion is that, had these anomalous influences 
been wanting, the issue of the election would have 
been diiferent, and that no inference can, therefore, be 
drawn from it with respect to the real sentiments of 
Her Majesty's Canadian subjects." 

Notwithstanding the victory of the Annexationists, 
the outlook of the party in the Eastern Townships was 
far from encouraging. The movement had attained 
its greatest popularity, and was now on the wane. 
Over 1,200 persons had signed the requisitions to Mr. 
Gait in favour of annexation, yet five months later the 
strength of the party was so diminished, that it could 
scarcely carry the seat. The constituency was ad- 
mittedly the most favourable to annexation of all the 
Ridings in the district. The Annexationists had ex- 
pected to win it by acclamation, yet they were all 
but defeated by a commonplace candidate. After the 
election, interest in the question of annexation rapidly 
diminished. The popular campaign of the Annexa- 
tionists was practically discontinued. Only a few of 
the local associations, such as that at Durham, gave 
evidence of an active existence. The majority of them 
were quiescent ; and, with the opening up of spring, 
all further activities throughout the various branches 
were suspended. An unmistakable evidence of the 
gradual change in public opinion was found in the 
establishment of a new paper. The St. Francis Tele- 
graph, of pronounced pro-British opinions. 

Notwithstanding the active campaign of the Rouge 
Party and press, the spread of annexation sentiment 
among the French population was exceedingly slow. 

1 The Brooks's family influeace was also thrown in favour of 

300 The Decline of the Movement 

The habitants lived up to their traditions as good 
churchmen in preferring the counsels of their priests 
to the harangues of the politicians.^ The quiet but 
effective opposition of the clergy to the movement 
aroused the bitter animosity of the Papineau Party. 
L'Avenir came out with the accusation that Lord 
Elgin had addressed a letter to the Catholic bishops in 
which he promised to restore the Jesuit estates, and 
to remove the capital to Lower Canada, if they would 
stifle the annexation agitation among their fellow 
countrjnnen.* Although the allegation was flatly de- 
nied by the hierarchy, L'Avenir refused to accept the 
denial on the ground that the statement of the bishops 
was disingenuous and unsatisfactory. In the bye- 
election in Quebec, the clergy were again accused of 
exerting an undue influence over the faithful. At the 
opening of the contest, according to L'Avenir, the head 
of the Seminary in that city entertained at dinner the 
editors of the three leading French-Canadian journals, 
with the result that all three papers at once threw the 
whole of their influence against the annexation candi- 
date. However this may be, the Government suc- 
ceeded admirably in identifying, in the minds of the 
habitants, the annexation movement with the most 
dangerous doctrines of anti-clericalism. 

An interesting attempt was made by the Rouge 
Party to connect the annexation movement with the 
growing agitation against the seignorial system. At 
several meetings which were called to discuss the latter 
topic, an effort was made by some of the speakers 
to raise the question of annexation. A few of these 
attempts to gain a fortuitous hearing for the annexation 

' Some of the early attempts of the Annexationists to obtain a 
hearing resulted in failure. A meeting at St. Fran9ois, Yamaska, 
which was regularly called by the local magistrate at the instance 
of the Annexationists, unanimously adopted a resolution, " that this 
parish deems it its duty to declare publicly its determination to aid 
in maintaining the connection with Great Britain " (November 25, 

» L'Aveniff November 24, 1849. 

The Decline of the Movement 301 

cause were successful ; but, in other instances, the 
electorate objected to the interjection of an extraneous 
issue. At St. Jacques d'Achigan, for example, a 
seignorial meeting adopted a resolution in favour of 
annexation, but at a similar gathering, some time later, 
in the parish of St. Zotigue, at which Mr. J. E. Dorion 
introduced the question of annexation, the audience 
declined to express an opinion upon the matter.^ In 
truth, the question of seignorial tenure was not strictly 
a party issue, since many of the ministerialists, in- 
cluding several members of the Legislature, were as 
heartily in favour of the abolition of the seignorial 
system as the leaders of the Rouge Party. 

The French Annexationists were fighting against 
heavy odds. They were especially handicapped by 
the lack of newspaper organs. L' Independent Canadien, 
the sole organ of the party in the Quebec District, was 
forced to suspend publication, after a brief existence, 
for the want of financial support. L'Echo des Cam- 
pagnes, which for a time was friendly to the Annexa- 
tionists, changed hands, and, at the same time, its policy 
in regard to annexation. In his opening announce- 
ment, the new editor stated that he had received many 
letters protesting against the past attitude of the 
paper, and that, for the future, the editorial page would 
be conducted in conformity with the general pro- 
British sentiment of the country at large. The desire 
for annexation, he concluded, sprang from spite, a 
reverse of fortune and hatred of the Reform Party. 
L'Avenir and Le Moniteur were left practically alone to 
fight the battle of the French Annexationists against 
the united strength of the religious and ministerial 

In the Eastern Townships, the opposition of the 
clergy was more openly pronounced. The influence of 
the Church was unmistakably felt on behalf of Mr. 
Cleveland in the Sherbrooke election. In the adjoining 
County of Huntingdon, some of the priests preached 

1 L'Avenir, February 8, 1849. 

302 The Decline of the Movement 

against annexation, and warned their congregations to 
have nothing to do with the movement, on pain of 
suffering the unfortuate consequences of the revolt of 
1837. The decisive stand of the clergy stopped the 
spread of annexation sentiment among the French- 
Canadians in the border district. In the bye-election 
in Megantic shortly after, the question of annexation 
was not even raised on the hustings.* 

In the meantime, the question had been taken up by 
some of the French-Canadians in the United States. 
For some time past they had been closely following 
the course of Canadian events, and at last the moment 
seemed opportune for them to intervene on behalf of 
their compatriots at home. At a meeting in New 
York, in December, an association was formed to 
promote a political union of Canada with the United 
States. The object of the meeting was clearly set 
forth in the opening remarks of the chairman, Mr. G. 
Franch^re, an influential member of the French- 
Canadian colony. The unhappy condition of Canada, 
as compared with the great Republic, was due, he 
declared, to the institutions of the colonial regime. 
Under these circumstances, annexation was the only 
recourse of their fellow countrymen. It was their duty 
to assist by all legal means to make Canada a member 
of the Union. A resolution, approving of the Montreal 
manifesto, was unanimously adopted. A permanent 
committee was appointed, with instructions to draw up 
a constitution for the local association to enter into 
relations with the Montreal Annexationists, and to invite 
their compatriots in the United States to form similar 
associations to be affiliated with the central body at 
New York. An address was accordingly prepared, to 
which the names of 69 persons were appended, calling 
upon their compatriots in Lower Canada to embrace 
the cause of annexation. The address read as 
follows : * 

' L'Avenir, May 8, 1849. 
■ Ibid., January 11, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 803 

Extrait de L'Avenir du 1.1 Janvier 1850 

Adresse des Canadiens de New-York et des 
environs, a leurs compatriotes du canada 

Les canadiens domiciles dans la cite de New-York 
et ses environs saisissent la premiere occasion qui 
se presente de deliberer sur leurs communs interets, 
pour renvoyer, de I'autre cote de la frontiere, I'echo 
des sympathies eveillees chez eux par le manifeste 
annexioniste, promulgue a Montreal dans le cours 
du mois dernier. 

Tous les organes de la publicite, dans les deux 
mondes, se sont plus a reconnaitre I'habilite et le tact 
qui ont preside a la redaction de ce document : ce 
concert d'eloges nous dispense a propos, d'un pane- 
gyrique qui n'ajouterait pas un iota a la force incon- 
trovertible des arguments developpes par le manifeste, 
ni un trait de plus au d^solant tableau des calamites 
que chaque ligne y enumere. 

Compatriotes du Bas-Canada ! en essayant de 
dissiper aujourd'hui les prejuges qu'une propagande 
contraire s'efforce de semer a I'endroit des institutions 
et des ressources de I'Union americaine nous pensons 
remplir un devoir de reconnaissance envers le pays 
qui nous accueille avec tant de bienveillance et qui 
nous traite a I'egal de ses propres enfants. 

Temoins joumaliers d'un mouvement commercial 
hors de comparaison, spectateurs interesses d'une 
organisation politique sans parallele, nous nous flattons 
que nos appreciations, prises sur place au foyer le 
plus vaste de la civilisation americaine, auront I'effet 
de confirmer, en ce qui conceme les Etats-Unis, les 
esperances mises en avant par le manifeste, et de 
justifier les conclusions auxquelles les griefs du present 
et I'instinct de I'avenir nous ont irresistiblement 

* For translation see Appendix, p. 385, 

304 The Decline of the Movement 

Nous aliens exposer d'une maniere concise les 
bienfaits pratiques et autres qui decouleraient, selon 
nous, de I'alliance proposee entre les deux peuples. 

Le systdme du gouvemement responsable dans les 
complications duquel se debattent les Canadas, lut 
taille a I'image du gouvernement de la metropole. 
Miserable copie ! maladroits copistes ! On a voulu 
transpose! a mille lieues de distance, sur les rives de 
I'Amerique, I'ceuvre accumulee de plusieurs siecles de 
privileges aristocratiques. Aussi ce systeme a-t-il 
dejoue les pro jets de ceux qui nous I'avaient bade, 
aussi est-il sorti plus inlorme que jamais des 
replatrages tentes pour lui rendre la vitalite qui se 
retire incessamment de lui. 

Qu'on lise I'acte de 1840 qui reunit les deux Canadas, 
que Ton pese les maux que cette constitution a 
prevenus ou alleges et les avantages eclos sous ses 
auspices. Ton se convaincra facilement que la seule 
ancre de salut qui reste a notre pays, c'est I'annexion 
en perspective, avec la plenitude des benefices et 
r^clat des splendeurs que le drapeau etoile renferme 
dans ses plis. 

L'acte d'Union n'a-t-il pas invente une liste civile 
disproportionnee aux ressources du pays ? 

Pourvu a la couteuse subvention d'une armee de 
fonctionnaires ? 

Soumis la franchise elective et I'eligibilite a certaines 
conditions de propri^te qui rendent inaccessible a 
la masse des gouvern6s la plus chere de leurs pre- 
rogatives ? 

Erige le gouvemement imperial en maitre absolu 
qui rdgle nos affaires a sa guise et, en vertu d'un 
droit qu'il ne s'6tait pas arrog^ dans ses anciennes 
possessions de I'Amerique du Nord, qui nomme nos 
gouverneurs ballott^s entre la responsabilite qu'ils 
doivent a I'empire et celle que le cabinet provincial 
exige d'eux ? 

N 'a-t-il pas etouff^, au milieu de ces conflits, toutes 
les velieit^s reformatrices de 1' administration pro- 

The Decline of the Movement 305 

vinciale vivant au jour le jour de cette existence 
rapetissee ? 

N'a-t-il pas impose un conseil legislatif dont I'in- 
fluence, s'il en a aucune, est subordonnee aux change- 
ments ministeriels ? 

Comparez maintenant les deux systemes, et jugez. 

Aux Etats-Unis, la machine gouvernementale est 
d'un jeu si simple et si regulier qu'un enfant peut en 
compter les pulsations. 

La mer du suffrage universel porte sur ses flots 
tous les aspirants de la candidature populaire. 

La representation est basee sur le thermometre 
seul vrai et juste de I'opinion publique : sur la popu- 

Les etats particuliers, souverains dans leurs limites 
respectives, deleguent au congres federal leur part 
mesuree de souverainete et d'influence. 

Le senat, renouvelle a periode fixe, jouit de 
certaines attributions executives qui ravivent son 
autorite et relevent sa valeur. 

Tous les pouvoirs, le pouvoir ex6cutif, le pouvoir 
legislatif, le pouvoir judiciaire, depuis le President 
jusqu'a I'agent de police, depuis le membre du congres 
jusqu'a I'alderman, depuis le president de la cour 
supreme jusqu'au juge des cours sommaires, grace 
a cette perpetuelle votation elective, montent au 
peuple et en redescendent. 

Tous les mandats que produit la boite electorale 
sont de courte duree, afin de se retremper, par 
ce bapteme democratique, I'ardeur qui pourrait se 
relentir, afin de ravir aux gouvemements surtout 
le tems {sic), s'ils en avaient Ten vie, de se laisser 
corrompre ou de se faire corrupteurs ! 

Le citoyen am^ricain, sur la foi de sa conscience, 
marche a son vote paisiblement, le secret du scrutin 
pour toute nationalite, sans redouter I'or, les intrigues 
et les vengeances ministeriels, aussi bien que I'ire 
collective de partis I'un pour I'autre animus de 
sentiments hostiles inv^teres. 


306 The Decline of the Movement 

De la contentement chez tout le monde, — de \k 
stabilite au dedans, — de la securite au dehors. 

Si nous passons de I'organization politique aux 
considerations purement materielles qui se rattachent 
au commerce, a Tindustrie, a tout ce qui compose 
enfin le tissu de la prosperite nationale, nous trouvont 
la difference encore plus tranchee sans doute parce- 
qu'elle est plus ostensible et plus palpable. 

En Canada, les interets du gouvernement et des 
particuliers eprouvent une egale souffrance ; le St.- 
Laurent est desert ; nos canaux d'une magnificence 
imperiale, loin de plier sous le poid des vaisseaux, 
attendent pour se rouvrir les bras de la navigation 
libre ; nos cours d'eau et nos chutes coulent dans 
leur pittoresque inutilite ; a peine avons-nous quelques 
milles de chemin de f er ; un simple reseau t616graphique 
suffit a I'activit^ peu electrique de nos affaires ; nous 
hebergeons I'emigration la plus denuee de moyens 
ulterieurs de subsister, qui delaisse les rivages de la 
malheureuse Irlande. 

Voila, en resum6, les progres que nous avons faits 
depuis un demi-si^cle sous I'empire du regime colonial. 

Eh bien ! les Etats-Unis, durant la meme periode 
ont march^ comme un geant d'un bout du continent 
k I'autre. Le soleil echauffe les climats les plus 
opposes et vivifie toutes les vari^tes de productions. 
Une Emigration entreprenante s'est dirigee vers les 
nouveaux Etats. La finance, effrayee par le dernier 
tremblement de trones europeens, accourt chercher 
ici un terrain plus solide pour y etablir ses operations. 
Les communications int^rieures par eau sont encom- 
br^es. Les tel^graphes multiplies sur tous les points. 
Les chemins de fer sillonnent le pays de leurs 
veines d'acier. On sera bientot en train de relier, par 
I'acoustique de Morse, San-Francisco et New-York, 
comme un chemin de fer gigantesque mettra les 
oceans porte k porte. 

L'am^ricain, tout en demeurant chez lui, peut 
se nourrir, s'habiller, produire, vendre, a I'abri des 

The Decline of the Movement 307 

tiraillements exterieurs, tandis que, faute de ressources, 
le jeune canadien abandonne son pays, trop incertain 
s'il ira coucher, au retour de I'exil, ses restes etemels 
pres des os benis de ses aieux — et que sommes-nous, 
en effet, sinon de pauvres exiles que la patrie renvoie 
en pleurant a la grace de Dieu ? 

Ces antitheses historiques et statistiques a la main, 
nous vous le demandons : Un pays pauvre, vivotant 
sous la tutelle coloniale, a-t-il a perdre ou a gagner 
a I'union intime que nous lui proposons de con- 
sommer avec une contree a la fois riche, contente 
et libre ? 

Les considerations que nous avons fait valoir 
jusqu'ici forment les elements vitaux de I'existence 
des peuples, mais elles n'en sont pas I'ame. 

Quand le pont-levis des frontieres s'abaissera devant 
les marchandises comme devant les idees americaines, 
nous secouerons deux siecles de servitude pour entrer, 
grace a I'annexion, dans la famille des peuples ; nous 
reparaitrons au firmament de la liberte universelle ou 
la domination prolongee de la France et de I'Angleterre 
nous avait eclipses. 

Elargissons done, sans rien abjurer de ce que le 
patriotisme a de plus cher, et les convictions de plus 
sacre, 6 canadiens, agrandissons la patrie aux pro- 
portions de I'hemisphere tout entier, rattachons nous 
4 la vie sociale par ce glorieux lien ; rendons une 
patrie aux exiles qui seront fiers d'un pareil acte de 
naturalisation : et nous verrons I'aigle americain 
dont les ailes trempent deja dans les deux oceans, 
embrasser le continent jusqu'au pole, et emporter 
au plus haut des cieux la charte de I'Amerique du 
Nord emancipee ! 

Habitants du Bas-Canada (nous nous adressons a 
vous de preference, car nous vous connaissons mieux), 
croyez-en ceux de vos freres qui, du milieu de leurs 
peines commes au sein de leurs jouissances, ne vous 
perdent pas de vue un moment ; on a defigure, pour 
vous les tenir en horreur, les grandes qualites qui 

308 The Decline of the Movement 

ont eleve au premier rang des nations ce peuple grandi 
si vite a vos cotes. 

Non ! il n'y a rien a craindre pour votre religion 
protegee par la liberte des cultes, inscrite au frontispice 
de la constitution, et incrustes plus avant encore au 
for de toutes les intelligences. 

Non ! il n'y a pas de danger pour votre langue 
sauvegardee par I'omnipotence du suffrage universel 
et invoquant, en cas d'exclusion, les sympathies et 
le respect traditionnel que tout descendant de 
Washington entretient pour ceux qui balbutient la 
langue de Rochambeau et de Lafayette ! 

Vous puiserez a cette alliance, nous vous le pro- 
mettons, cet esprit d'ordre et de sagesse qui fait jaillir, 
des poudres d'or de la Califournie, un etat la meme 
ou d'autres peuples ne surent fonder que des mines. 

Vous vous remettrez en communion nationale avec 
ceux de vos freres qui gagnent a pleins railroads les 
prairies du Far Quest. En croirez-vous ces pionniers, 
monuments vivants et irrefragables de I'appauvrisse- 
ment graduel du pays ? 

Annexionistes du Bas- et du Haut-Canada reunis, 
nous vous disons : Du courage, du courage, encore 
du courage ; les grandes causes ne triomphent qu'^ 
cette condition. La persecution, qu'elle vienne du 
gouvernement ou de ses affides, est le premier symptdme 
du succ^s d^finitif qui doit couronner les revolutions 

Vive l'Annexion ! 

Vive rAm^rique, une par sa grandeur nationale, 
indivisible dans sa foi r^publicaine ! 

The movement spread to other American cities in 
which there was a considerable French population. At 
a public meeting at Troy, New York, resolutions were 
adopted declaring : (i) that the colonial status of 
Canada was responsible for the economic stagnation 
of the province, and the involuntary exile of so many 

The Decline of the Movement 309 

of her citizens, (2) that it was the duty of all Canadians 
to join in the Montreal manifesto, (3) that they should 
do all in their power to induce England to agree to 
annexation, (4) that a political union with the United 
States would restore the prosperity of the province, and 
(5) that a manifesto in favour of annexation should be 
issued to the Canadian people. The thanks of the 
gathering were extended to L'Avenir, Le Moniteur, 
The Herald, and The Courier of Montreal, for their 
splendid services on behalf of democracy and annexa- 
tion. An address to the Canadian people, signed by 
over 400 of the French-Canadian residents of Troy and 
the surrounding district, was duly prepared, and for- 
warded to Montreal for publication.^ So far as the 
subject-matter was concerned, the address was a 
practical reproduction of the resolutions of the meeting. 
Shortly afterwards, another assembly was held at 
Cahoes, in the same state, at which resolutions of 
similar import were adopted. To these resolutions, 
there were appended the signatures of over two 
hundred persons.* 

At a meeting of the New York association in April 
1850, the permanent committee presented an interesting 
report, reviewing at length the course of the annexation 
movement and the existing conditions of affairs. The 
recent despatch of Earl Grey, in the opinion of the 
committee, closed the first stage of the annexation 
movement. The refusal of the English Government to 
agree to separation brought them face to face with 
unexpected difficulties which must needs be overcome 
before any substantial progress could be made towards 
annexation. The report strongly urged that the press 
and young men of the party should put forth still more 
vigorous efforts to convert their compatriots to the 
new political faith.' At a subsequent meeting of the 
association, Mr. J. E, Dorion of Montreal addressed 
the members, and was accorded a splendid reception.* 

1 L'Avenir, January 8, 1850. 2 Jhid., May 25, 1850. 
' Ibid., January 4, 1850. * May 9, 1850. 

310 The Decline of the Movement 

Somewhat later another branch association was 
formed at Cooperville, New York, thanks to the zeal 
of Dr. Dorion of Rouse's Point. On the Fourth of 
July a grand celebration took place at which Mr. 
Dorion of Montreal was the principal speaker, and 
resolutions of the usual order were adopted in favour 
of annexation.^ 

These demonstrations in the United States were 
welcomed most heartily by the annexation press of 
Canada. The manifesto of the New York Association 
was accepted as the most convincing evidence of the 
social and economic advantages of annexation.* The 
appeal of the exiles would, it was hoped, awaken a 
responsive chord in French-Canadian hearts, and arouse 
a more independent and democratic spirit among the 
habitants. The addresses of the American associations 
were most freely used by the annexation speakers in 
their campaign in the Eastern Townships. But, appar- 
ently, the efforts of the American societies counted for 
little in Canadian politics. The counsel of the local 
priest was much more authoritative than the distant 
voice of a few Americanized compatriots. The habi- 
tants were entirely out of touch with the democratic 
thought and life of the American people ; and, in 
truth, were inclined to look upon all forms of social 
and intellectual progress with a certain amount of 

The advent of the New Year brought little change 
in the political situation in Upper Canada. On account 
of a change in his political opinions, Mr. John Wilson, 
the member for London, severed his connection with 
the Conservative Party, In justice to his constituents 
he resigned his seat, and stood for re-election in the 
Reform interests. In his election address, he strongly 
censured the Tory Party for espousing the cause of 
peaceful annexation. The proposal, he declared, was 
altogether too specious to extend far beyond the region 

1 L'Avenir, July 12, 1850. 
• Ibid., January 22, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 311 

of the originators.' But the question of annexation 
was in no way at stake in the election, for the Conserva- 
tive candidate, Mr. Dixon, was a staunch supporter of 
the British connection. The subject was only inci- 
dentally raised by the Reform speakers in the hope 
of discrediting the Tory Party. The tactics of the 
Liberals in this regard justly met with the severest 
condemnation of the local Tory organ. After a bitter 
struggle, Mr. Wilson was again returned by a small 

In a speech to his constituents at Woodstock, the 
Hon. F. Hincks made a bitter attack upon the loyalty 
of the opposition. " Politics," he declared, " are in 
a most extraordinary state in Canada." The Con- 
servative Party was completely disorganized. "There 
is, however, a political organization in the country 
known as the British American League, which is in 
fact a political society, and which, if established ten or 
twelve years ago, would have subjected its members to 
trial for high treason. ... Its members are divided 
amongst themselves, and differ from each other in 
their opinions. One portion goes for annexation to the 
United States as the great remedy for existing evils. 
These cannot be considered as Conservatives, yet they 
are men who formerly belonged to the old Tory Party 
in Upper Canada. They are men who were dis- 
appointed in their expectations, and who, when they 
see no prospects of the revival of Toryism, are ready 
to support any party which may spring up for the 
purpose of embarrassing the Government. Another 
section of the League go for elective institutions." * 

To this partisan attack. The Patriot made the 
spirited reply that, although in Montreal the senseless 
cry for annexation had been raised by a group of 
sordid men, some of whom were formerly allied with the 
Conservative Party, nevertheless the fact was notorious 

1 The Globe, December 15, 1849. 

2 The Examiner, January 9, 1850, 

312 The Decline of the Movement 

that, " in the country parts of Lower Canada, and 
through the greater part of Upper Canada, the Tory 
Party were thoroughly loyal, and that the strength 
of the Annexation Party consisted of disappointed 
Radicals." » 

Speaking at Woodstock a few days later, Mr. 
Van Sittart, a prominent member of the League, 
distinctly repudiated on behalf of that body the charge 
of annexation tendencies, and advocated a confedera- 
tion of the provinces as a strong barrier against a 
political union with the United States.^ 

At the opening of the York assizes at Toronto, 
Judge Draper took occasion to address the Grand Jury 
on the dangerous nature of the annexation movement.' 
He severely arraigned the specious arguments of the 
Annexationists in favour of a legal right to advocate 
annexation. " But the liberty of discussion, as of 
action, ought to have, in every society enjoying a 
constitution and governed by law, some limits which 
it would be criminal to exceed. To plead in favour 
of an object towards which one cannot take a single 
step without a crime, ought to be in itself something 
criminal ; and to speak of attaining such an object by 
some indefinite way by which one would adroitly avoid 
the danger to which one would expose himself by open 
acts of treason or sedition, is a sophism which ought 
not to deceive either those who make use of it, or 
those to whom it is addressed." 

In their reply, the Grand Jury dealt with the delicate 
situation with tact and sound judgment. Although 
they disapproved of the propaganda of the Annexa- 
tionists, they hesitated to recommend any action which 
might restrict the full liberty of speech. " And they 
do confidently believe that the good sense of the people, 
the surest safeguard in extremity, will operate as a 
sufficient restraint upon the exuberance of visionary 

1 The Patriot, January 12, 1850. 
' Ibid., January 16, 1850. 
' January 7, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 313 

theorists, and resist all vague attempts of selfish 
political speculators." ' 

The despatch of the Colonial Secretary to Lord Elgin 
was heartily welcomed by the loyalist press of Upper 
Canada. Its views were well expressed in an 
editorial of The Kingston Herald. " We hope Annexa- 
tionists will acquiesce in that decision, and that we shall 
see no more addresses to the country. Annexation is 
morally, politically and physically too, condemned by 
the great majority of this country, and distinctly 
negatived by the Imperial Government. Why, then, 
will men be so insane as to further protract excitement, 
and hold out hopes which they must be persuaded 
cannot be realized ? " * Of a similar tenor was the 
declaration of The Dundas Warder. " For our part we 
have ever regarded the peaceful separation hobby as a 
humbug." The despatch of Earl Grey, it continued, 
was well timed, and likely to prove beneficial by con- 
vincing the public that England would not consent 
to separation. Under these circumstances, it was the 
duty of every citizen to stop agitating, and to devote 
himself to such practical measures as would promote 
the well-being of the country.* 

In some quarters, however, the despatch of Earl 
Grey was ungraciously received, while in others it was 
misunderstood or treated with suspicion. According 
to The Colonist, it was really surprising, in view of the 
fatuous policy of the Colonial Secretary, that annexa- 
tion sentiment was not more prevalent throughout the 
country.* The Examiner sarcastically remarked that 
his lordship had made a great discovery in regard to 
the loyalty of the Canadian people, in believing that 
their patriotism would stand the buffeting of the United 
States tariff. The Annexationists, it contended, had 
stopped short of any treasonable acts ; and so long as 

1 The Pilot, January 24, 1850. 

2 The Kingston Herald, March 13, 1850. 

3 Quoted from The Mirror, Februauy 15, 1850. 
* The Colonist, February 5, 1850. 

314 The Decline of the Movement 

they limited themselves to strictly peaceful agitation, 
they were entitled freely to discuss the question of 
annexation with their fellow countrymen, and the 
despatch of the Colonial Secretary would not prevent 
it. The only way to annexation, it concluded, lay 
through independence,' 

The beginning of the New Year witnessed the or- 
ganization of an annexation association in Toronto, 
Although regular meetings were held, little was 
known by the outside public in regard to the member- 
ship or proceedings of that body. It was presently 
learned, however, that the association was preparing 
an address to the people of Upper Canada. The 
wisdom of this action was severely assailed by The 
Mirror in an editorial entitled, " More Gizards than 
Brains." Annexation, it maintained, was a thing of 
time, and it was by no means desirable that it should 
be born before its time. The maj ority of the people were 
not yet qualified to enjoy the advantages of political 
union, for the vassalage of colonization was still upon 
them. The issuance of a manifesto was not calculated to 
promote the object in view, but rather to snuff it out. 

The manifesto, which soon after made its appear- 
ance, was moderate and dignified in expression ; 
it consisted mainly of a restatement of the argu- 
ments of the editorial pages of The Independent. 
Strange to say, the address omitted any reference to 
the recent despatch of Earl Grey. The document 
read as follows : 

Address of the Toronto Annexation Society 
TO the People of Canada 

Fellow Countrymen : 

The natural advancement of this province 
towards a state of national maturity, accelerated by 
the occurrence of unforeseen events, having brought 
us to that critical period in our history when in our 
opinion the mutual benefits of our connection with 

^ Th$ Examiner, February 6, 1850. 

The Decline of the Movement 315 

England no longer exist, it becomes our duty as a 
people to exercise a prudential forecast in providing 
for the exigencies of our altered condition, and the 
necessities of the future. In no spirit of hostility to 
the parent state, nor with any contemplated defiance 
of existing authority, municipal or metropolitan, do we 
address you. A candid statement of the actual con- 
dition of the country will sufficiently show the necessity 
of providing for its pressing and paramount want. 

The geographical position of Canada — its extent — its 
elements of future greatness — its distance from the 
parent state — the impatience of external restraint, 
which grows up as an instinct with the progress of 
young communities — all forbid the hope that any com- 
mutual interests can for ever bind up our fortunes with 
those of the mother country. That the separation, 
when it does come, as come it must eventually, may be 
the voluntary exercise of the free will of parent and 
offspring, must be the desire of every true patriot and 
sincere friend of humanity. It would argue a false 
delicacy, and discover a mistaken prudence, were we 
to look on in silence while political society is outgrowing 
its institutions, in the vain hope that they can long 
survive not only the necessities, the conditions, and 
the wants which called them into being, but also the 
affections which supported their existence. 

The pressing necessities of the manufacturing popu- 
lation of England, which operated as the motive for 
effecting a change in her commercial policy, subjecting 
the Canadian farmer to the disadvantages of inde- 
pendence, without its countervailing benefits, may also 
be a justification of the measure. If the people of the 
United Kingdom, having in view the general interest 
of the empire and without giving undue weight to the 
claims of any locality, near or distant, deliberately 
resolved upon a commercial policy, which, upon the 
whole, they believed would prove most conducive to 
the general interests, the Canadian people cannot urge 
their just complaints of the sacrifice of their special 

816 The Decline of the Movement 

interests as an adequate reason for condemning the 
national policy, and seeking its reversal. Were the 
question of free trade in England not yet decided, 
Canada might claim, as a right, to have her voice 
heard in the decision. 

The acquiescence of all interests, colonial and metro- 
politan, should have been secured by every reasonable 
concession in the adjustment of such a question. But 
the decision of the Imperial Legislature, a decision in 
which we had no voice, and which, if we had, the 
suffrage of Canada could not have affected, may be 
looked upon as beyond the hope of reversal. But even 
though the reactionary agitation of English agricultur- 
ists should, for the moment, cause the opinions of that 
class to prevail in the national Councils, a counter 
agitation would in turn bring matters back to their 
present position ; while Canada, tantalized by false 
hopes and dreamy illusions, would realize nothing but 
constant buffetings amid the violent oscillations from 
a free trade to a protection policy. Already has the 
unfixedness in the commercial policy of the mother 
country seriously augmented the difficulties of this 
province, and extinguished the hope of any permanent 
relief from Imperial Legislation to our depressed 
agricultural and commercial interests. 

Compelled to encounter all the difficulties of foreign 
competition in the English market, and deprived of 
that complete control over foreign commerce which 
independent states enjoy, we have to sustain the bur- 
dens without enjoying the advantages of independence. 
It is of this we conceive we have a right to complain ; 
and not of the national policy, which the suffrage of 
Canada, if permitted to be exercised, would be in- 
sufficient to change. 

Thus circumstanced with regard to the mother 
country, our commercial relations with the only foreign 
nation with whom our trade is considerable are not on 
a more satisfactory footing. For several years we 
have sought in vain the establishment of a treaty of 

The Decline of the Movement 317 

commerce based upon principles of a mutual exchange 
of the products of the soil. At this moment, there are 
in progress to secure this object the same movements 
which have previously, on several successive occasions, 
raised the hopes of the province only to add the 
poignancy of disappointment to the disadvantages of 
our position. Without speculating on the present 
chances of success in the pursuit of an object, which 
has hitherto eluded our grasp, we cannot affect to be 
insensible that, were there no barrier to the immediate 
success of this measure, it would not place our commerce 
with the United States upon the best and most desirable 
footing. In its present shape, the measure now before 
the American Congress would cover but a limited 
portion of those articles of commerce which are daily 
exchanged by the two countries. 

In a province thus circumstanced, it would be little 
short of a miracle, if the great interests of industry 
could be buoyed up above the accumulated weight of 
depression. General languor, and the absence of that 
bold spirit of enterprise which so pre-eminently char- 
acterizes our American neighbours, are the natural 
consequence. Emigration and capital shun our shores. 
With rivers that supply the finest hydraulic power in 
the world, manufacturers have not taken root amongst 
us. A chain of almost uninterrupted water communi- 
cation, in the very heart of the country, lies surrounded 
by forests, and but partially explored, for want of 
capital and enterprise to turn it to accoimt. 

The almost illimitable sources of wealth, in soil, 
timber, water, and ores of various metals, in which the 
provinces abound, place in striking contrast the rich 
profusion of the Creator with the inactivity of man ; 
and this inertness, which chills and freezes every 
industrial interest, stands in still more striking and 
humiliating contrast with the general activity and 
uniform progress of American states, whose settlement 
dates much later than the settlement of Canada. 
Of the numerous colonies of England, Canada is 

318 The Decline of the Movement 

perhaps the one whose political institutions European 
capitalists regard as the most unstable. Among the 
many causes that have contributed to produce this 
impression are : the vicissitudes that have marked our 
political history ; our proximity to a country whose 
maxims of government are supposed to possess a 
peculiarly contagious influence ; the popular belief that 
we have reached that state of national manhood when 
colonial dependence is morally, and must soon be 
practically, superseded ; the apprehension that we are 
on the verge of a revolution in which popular violence 
may seek to cancel the public engagements ; the un- 
settled state of our political institutions. Vague ideas 
of this nature, floating in the popular mind of England, 
deter the capitalist from risking a farthing upon the 
most feasible proj ects for constructing railways or other 
works of provincial utility. Thus, by a natural and 
necessary process, is the state of political transition 
made also one of commercial stagnation and industrial 

Could we even secure abroad that general confidence 
in the stability of our political institutions, for which 
it were vain and delusive to hope, there would still 
remain the numerous disadvantages of a mere political 
connection, which on the one hand implies the right 
of restraint, and, on the other, the necessity of sub- 
mission. In the appointment of the person administer- 
ing the Government, the province has no voice ; and, 
however the received theory of our scheme of govern- 
ment may define the limits of his authority, repeated 
facts in our history show how fallacious is the assump- 
tion that there exists any adequate safeguard against 
the stretching of his power beyond the range of its 
theoretical limits. Armed with secret instructions 
from England and the potent prerogative of dissolving 
the Provincial Parliament, a skilful or unscrupulous 
exercise of the functions with which he is invested, and 
the influence he can wield, enables the Governor of the 
day to change at pleasure the entire aspect and ten- 

The Decline of the Movement 319 

dency of our politics. The discretionary power in the 
Governor to reserve, for Imperial assent or abrogation, 
measures which have received the sanction of the 
Canadian Legislature, gives rise to the most incon- 
venient delays, and places our interests in constant 
danger of being made subservient to the exigencies of 
Imperial Legislation. 

Denied that complete freedom of action over our 
political and commercial interests which is the attri- 
bute and prerogative of independent states, when the 
countervailing benefits of the parental connection have 
been withdrawn, we are naturally led to seek a change 
in our external relations that will relieve us from the 
burdens of a condition prolific of evils and sterile of 

From a dispassionate and candid consideration of the 
case, we have deliberately formed the opinion that the 
only remedy that can relieve us from the commercial 
and political disadvantages imposed upon us by the 
nature and circumstances of our present position, is to 
be found in a friendly separation of this province from 
England, and its annexation to the United States. 
Our sole object in thus appealing to the intelligence of 
the Canadian people is to counsel them to take pre- 
liminary steps for obtaining the assent of the executive 
and legislative authorities of England to this proposed 

Various alternatives to avert this inevitable result 
have been suggested, discussed, and abandoned. Of 
these the most prominent are : colonial representation 
in the Imperial Parliament, and an independent 
federal union of the British-American Provinces. 

The first of these schemes, often broached, but never 
cordially supported by the public voice of either the 
province or the mother country, has ceased to have 
advocates in any section of our community whose 
numbers and intelligence entitle them to consideration. 
Besides that the right of representation in the Imperial 
Parliament would bring with it an additional burthen 

320 The Decline of the Movement 

of taxation, from which we have hitherto been exempt, 
the practical benefits of the arrangement would be of a 
questionable character. The presence of our representa- 
tives might indeed serve constantly to remind the 
British Parliament of the political existence of Canada ; 
but the delegated suffrage of the province would not be 
felt in the scales of national legislation. 

The scheme of an independent federal union of the 
provinces would impose upon the federation all the 
burthens of a national existence ; while our weakness 
would render us a prey to the cupidity or ambition of 
any powerful maritime or neighbouring nation. The 
means of naval protection from foreign aggression 
would be a necessary condition of national indepen- 
dence ; but the cost of creating a navy, and the burthen 
of its support, would far exceed our available resources. 
To this would be added the cost of a consular system, 
internal fortifications, and a standing army. 

Annexation to the United States would secure to 
Canada all the advantages of unrestricted free trade 
with the other members of the confederacy. Our in- 
terests and sympathies would necessarily be fused 
together ; and the enterprise, so conspicuous every- 
where throughout the Union, could not fail to find its 
way and extend itself very soon over the whole face of 
the province. To our statesmen and great men it 
would open a wide field of honourable ambition. It 
would raise our credit abroad, and cause foreign capital 
to flow into the country. Manufacturers — for which 
the country is so admirably adapted from its geo- 
graphical position, climate, cheapness of motive power 
and labour, and from the abundant supply of raw 
material in which it abounds — would flourish to an 
extent unsurpassed in many of the older states. An 
extended system of railways would soon be carried 
into practical operation. These and other inducements 
would divert to our shores a portion of the better 
description of immigration, which at present sets in, in 
an almost uninterrupted stream, to the Western States. 

The Decline of the Movement 321 

A patriotic spirit of common nationality would displace 
the jealousies and the feuds which have so long em- 
bittered social intercourse, and a noble feeling of self- 
reliance would produce a general social elevation 
amongst all classes of our community. 

In thus stating the broad grounds on which we con- 
ceive the cause of annexation should be prosecuted, it 
is of importance to observe that no steps should be 
recommended which shall not be in accordance with a 
friendly separation, in the first instance, from Great 
Britain. All constitutional means must, however, be 
employed to obtain the sense of the people, and through 
them to influence the Legislature. An extensive 
organization, through local societies to be linked to- 
gether by a chain of correspondence, is recommended. 
The necessity for the adoption of this course is perhaps 
greater in Upper Canada than in the other section of 
the province — in many parts of which public sentiment 
has become so united on this subject as not to require 
the formation of societies. In Western Canada, how- 
ever, where the most extraordinary efforts have been 
made by interested politicians to mislead and intimi- 
date the people, organization has become indispensable 
as a means for the dissemination of truth, as well as 
for securing combined action. Already such informa- 
tion has been received of the state of public feeling on 
this great question throughout Western Canada, as to 
warrant the belief that there are but few localities where 
societies may not be immediately formed. When we 
see whole counties in Lower Canada coming boldly 
forward, and avowing their sentiments in favour of 
annexation, it is time that those who entertain similar 
views in this part of the province should at once cast 
their weight into the scale in favour of the movement. 

The endeavours of those whose individual interests 
are not identified with the community at large, to retard 
the early consummation of this great and glorious 
object, must be firmly met by a manly determination 
to overcome every obstacle. Let it be borne in mind, 


322 The Decline of the Movement 

on all occasions, that the connection of these colonies 
with the mother country is no longer regarded by any 
class of politicians, either in England or Canada, as a 
thing of permanence. The course of action recom- 
mended is merely to accelerate inevitable events, and 
shorten a state of transition which, whilst it lasts, must 
retard that rapid advance to prosperity and happiness 
that will speedily follow the attainment of a position 
amongst the independent nations of the earth. 

Fellow Countrymen : — Having thus in general terms 
expressed our views on this momentous question, we 
commend the cause to the good sense and zeal of our 
friends in every part of Canada ; and trust that every 
true Canadian, every lover of really responsible and 
free government, who entertains a noble ambition to 
see his country advance in prosperity and wealth, will 
on this occasion manfully perform his duty. 

By order of the Association, 

Richard Kneeshaw, 

Recording Secretary. 


Corresponding Secretary. 

The manifesto, which was doubtless the work of 
Mr. Willson, was sarcastically likened by The Montreal 
Gazette to the famous address of the three tailors of 
Tooley Street. It was indeed a significant circumstance 
that the officers and members of the association did not 
follow the example of their fellow Annexationists in 
Montreal in appending their names to the address. The 
manifesto fell fiat ; its appearance awakened scarcely 
any interest among the general body of citizens. This 
indifference was due, according to The Examiner, to 
the lack of novelty of the subject. One year ago, a 
large proportion of the people " would have been 
petrified by such a document," but now it did not 
shock the nerves of even the most sensitive. It was 
difficult, in fact, to gauge what was the real state of 

The Decline of the Movement 323 

public opinion on annexation. Public sentiment had 
been materially altered, in the opinion of The Examiner, 
by the removal of the seat of Government to Toronto. 
Both pro- and anti-Annexationists were alike influenced 
by selfish considerations. The choice of Toronto as 
the temporary capital had made many converts to the 
British connection in the city, and the removal of the 
seat of Government might occasion a similar reaction 
of feeling. The natural decadence of loyalty, it con- 
cluded, had been accelerated by the course of English 
legislation and by the apparent antagonism of interest 
between the colony and the parent state.' 

The spirits of the Annexationists were somewhat 
raised by several favourable editorials in The Oshawa 
Reformer, and by the appearance of a new paper, The 
Whitby Freeman — a half Tory, half Annexationist sheet. 
It was hoped that the seed which had been sown in 
the Perry election was about to bring forth its first 
fruits. But the hopes of the Annexationists were 
quickly extinguished, for the paper soon after fell into 
the hands of the Reformers, and changed its political 
principles. Throughout the Midland District, the an- 
nexation movement was distinctly losing ground. In 
speaking of the Sherbrooke election. The Peterborough 
Dispatch declared : " We believe that the people here 
have no wish for a change . . . and that an earnest 
and timely effort on the part of the imperial power to 
remove from among us any cause for complaint would 
go far to re-establish confidence and good feeling." 
As a means to the betterment of conditions, it advocated 
a retrenchment in public expenditure, the popular 
election of officials, and an extension of the franchise.* 

The views of The Kingston Whig were even more 
outspoken. " However much the annexation move- 
ment may expand itself and its principles in the midst 
of populous cities and large towns, it certainly is not 
progressing in country places. The rural population 

* The Examiner, February 20, 1850. 

* Quoted from The Mirror, March 22, 1850, 

824 The Decline of the Movement 

of the Midland and Victoria Districts to a man seems to 
be dead against annexation, or any intimate connection 
with the adjoining Repubhc. A good deal of this 
repulsion is probably spurious, the combined effect 
of the Liberal Party's being in power, and the dread of 
want of sincerity in the profession of those Annexa- 
tionists who belong to the defunct Conservative Party." 

Nevertheless the various local correspondents of The 
Independent regularly informed its readers of the 
growth of annexation sentiment in their respective 
parts of the province. In the County of Norfolk, it 
was alleged that two-thirds of the inhabitants were 
Annexationists at heart. Encouraged by these reports, 
Mr. Willson resolved to make a tour of the Western 
peninsula in the interest of his paper and of the an- 
nexation cause. But on attempting to hold a meeting 
at Port Rowan, he was treated with such indignity 
that he thought it advisable to leave the district, and 
discontinue his campaign. 

A more encouraging prospect for the Annexationists 
was presented in the counties along the Detroit and 
St. Clair rivers, where the growing spirit of discontent 
at last found expression. The proximity of the district 
to the American border brought home most forcibly 
to the Canadian farmers and traders the striking con- 
trast between their condition and that of their neigh- 
bours across the river. The proof of their economic 
inferiority lay before their eyes, and they could not 
fail to see it. They were as moral, industrious, and 
intelligent as their American cousins, yet they did not 
reap the same reward for their labours. The conviction 
was forced upon them that the colonial status was 
responsible for their ills. 

The rising feeling of disaffection was voiced in an 
open letter of Colonel Prince, the local Tory member 
and one of the Vice-Presidents of the League, in which 
he came out boldly for Canadian independence. As the 
policy of annexation was by no means popular, he 
endeavoured to give a new direction to the spirit of 

The Decline of the Movement 325 

unrest, by advocating a union of the British-American 
provinces and their erection into an independent state. 
Personally, he declared, he was opposed to annexation. 
" The people would degrade themselves, if they did not 
make independence, not annexation, the test at the 
next general election." They should approach the 
Queen by petition to grant them independence. The 
voluntary grant of this boon would not compromise 
the honour of England, nor tarnish the reputation of 
Canada. The dominion of Great Britain, he concluded, 
was baneful to Canada ; the colonial status was com- 
mercially ruinous, and politically injurious and humili- 
ating.* The opinion of the gallant colonel was based 
on his own business experience, to which he appealed 
with convincing force. He had invested a large pro- 
portion of his capital in a local brewery which, owing 
to the closing of the American market, had turned out 
to be a dead loss. 

The suggestion was promptly taken up by some of 
the local inhabitants. A petition to the Legislature 
was drawn up by Colonel Prince, and signed by many 
of the " most respected citizens " of the united counties 
of Essex, Kent, and Lambton, praying for an address to 
the Queen in favour of independence. The petitioners 
alleged that they were driven to make this request 
by the unfortunate policy of England in withdrawing 
the colonial preference, and by other acts prejudicial 
to the interests of the province. Nevertheless, the 
petitioners concluded, they would remain loyal sub- 
jects of Great Britain until Her Majesty should see fit 
to release the colony from the status of a dependency,' 

This outburst of discontent proved only a flash in 
the pan ; it was the last bright flare of a flickering 
flame. Annexation sentiment was gradually dying out 
throughout Upper Canada. Before the close of the 
month The Toronto Independent was forced to announce 
its approaching demise. The paper had been ably 

1 Amherstburg Courier, February 23, 1859 
* The Colonist, April 5, 1850. 

326 The Decline of the Movement 

edited by Mr. Willson, In three short months it had 
increased its circulation from seven to fourteen hun- 
dred, but it could not command sufficient support to 
keep it going. Annexation sentiment in Upper Canada 
was not sufficiently developed to maintain an inde- 
pendent organ. In the dying confession of The Inde- 
pendent, the editor declared that he had been induced 
by the pressure of his Montreal friends to make The 
Independent an annexation paper. From the outset he 
had not been sanguine of success in taking such an 
advanced position. The turn of affairs in Upper 
Canada and the course of political parties had shown 
that his original intention of advocating independence 
only, leaving the question of annexation for future 
settlement, would have been more consonant with the 
sentiments of the Canadian public. 

In agitating for an ultimate end, instead of a proxi- 
mate step, the separationists had placed themselves in 
a false position in Upper Canada, where as yet no lead- 
ing politician had come out in favour of annexation. In 
the light of these conditions, further agitation for an- 
nexation should be abandoned for a time. Annexation, 
he believed, could be peacefully and constitutionally 
obtained only through the winning of elective institu- 
tions, and it behoved the Annexationists to join hands 
with their fellow countrymen in the struggle for 
popular democracy. " It would be folly," he con- 
cluded, " for us to continue single-handed and alone in 
all this western section of the province to agitate a 
question, when the first step towards its attainment has 
got to be taken." In speaking of the disappearance 
of The Independent, The Montreal Herald sardonically 
remarked that an annexation paper could not hope to 
succeed in Toronto, where there was too much flunkey- 
ism fomented by the presence of the Governor-General. 
But, it contended, the principles for which The Inde- 
pendent stood had not ceased to exist, as was evident 
from the recent conversion of Colonel Prince, and the 
progress of the movement in New Brunswick. 


The Decline of the Movement 327 

A survey of the state of political feeling throughout 
the province revealed the fact that the annexation 
campaign had been a complete failure. Outside of 
Montreal and Quebec, and the border districts in the 
eastern and western extremes of the province, the 
movement had not obtained a firm hold upon any con- 
siderable portion of the population. The number of 
signatures to the various manifestos did not amount 
to 5,000, an insignificant fraction of the total popula- 
tion. The bulk of the English inhabitants of Upper 
Canada, and of the French in Lower, were avowedly 
hostile to annexation. "As a popular movement," 
declared The Globe in language somewhat overdrawn, 
" the whole thing has been an entire failure ; it has 
not found a resting-place in any section of the country, 
nor with any political party." * 

1 The Globe, March 5, 1850. 



Renewal of negociations for reciprocity — Efforts of H. Merritt — 
Views of Lord Elgin — Mission of Hon. M. Cameron — Opposi- 
tion of the Annexationists— Reciprocity in Congress — Failure 
of measures — Meeting of Legislature — Tactics of the Annexa- 
tionists — Speech of Governor-General — Resolution of loyalty 
in Legislative Council — The Legislative Assembly — Rejection 
of petition for independence — Attitude of the Ministry — 
Elective Legislative Council — Debate on annexation — Attitude 
of the Conservative leaders — Views of the Annexationists — 
Debate on dismissal of annexation officials — Onslaught of the 
Annexationists — Divided counsels of the Tories — Attitude of 
Sir Allan MacNab — Conduct of the Clear Grits — Defence of the 
Ministry — Victory of the Government — Defeat of the Boulton 
amendment — Course of the several parties — Annexation 
dropped — Reasons for failure of movement — Revival of trade 
— Influence of Lord Elgin — Divisions among the Annexa- 
tionists — Loyalty of French-Canadians — Influence of clergy 
— Annexation sentiment among Clear Grits — Lack of politicjd 
organization — Unfavourable conditions in the United States — 
The slavery issue — Canadian hostility to slavery — Opposition 
of English Government and nation — Disappearance of local 
associations — Collapse of the movement. 

IN the meantime, the Government was making 
another serious effort to secure an entrance into 
the American market for Canadian products. 
Although Lord Elgin was greatly disappointed 
at the failure of the Dix Bill, he had not given up hope 
of securing a reciprocity agreement from the President 
or Congress. The seriousness of the local situation 
convinced the Ministry of the necessity of immediate 
action, if the colony was not to be lost to the empire. 
Mr. Hamilton Merritt was sent on a special mission to 
Washington, with a view to winning over the American 
Government to a more favourable attitude towards 


The Collapse of the Movement 329 

reciprocity. Negociations for an international agree- 
ment were set on foot by Mr. Crampton, the British 
Ambassador, but broke down owing to the opposition 
of the President, who maintained that the proper mode 
of procedure was by legislation, and not by executive 

Although the mission was a failure, Mr. Merritt re- 
turned with the conviction that a favourable reciprocity 
arrangement might yet be wrung from the United States. 
But he was as strongly opposed to annexation as ever. 
In a speech to his constituents a few months later, he 
declared that on general principles he was in favour 
of free trade between England and Canada, with 
discriminating duties against the United States. But, 
since England had reversed her former policy to the 
disadvantage of the colonies, Canada must needs seek 
admission for her products into the American market. 
He did not believe that the policy of reciprocity would 
estrange the province from Great Britain, but that, on 
the contrary, the continued closure of the United States 
market would inevitably produce an ever-increasing 
demand for separation. He was convinced that they 
would soon gain reciprocity either by coercion or 
without, possibly within a few months, but at any rate 
ultimately. Annexation was a question to be seriously 
considered and not laughed at, as was the vogue in 
some of the newspapers. 

He did not think that if Canada were annexed to 
the United States, it would receive any benefits what- 
ever. It would have to assume a heavy federal tax, 
and to levy duties on all but American goods. Free 
trade would certainly be secured on this continent, 
but it would be lost with the rest of the world. He was 
convinced, however, that the only thing to stop an- 
nexation was to remove the high custom duties 
which tended to drive men into seeking it and de- 
siring it. 

A portion of the commercial community heartily 

^ U.S. Ex. Doc. No. 64, ist Sess. 31st Cong. 

330 The Collapse of the Movement 

supported the efforts of the Government to secure 
reciprocity. A group of public-spirited business men 
united to send a petition to the British Government by 
the hands of Mr. Henry Moyle, requesting it to use its 
influence and good offices with the American Executive, 
to secure on mutual conditions the free access of 
Canadian grains to the United States market, and, 
failing in this, to retaliate upon the Americans by im- 
posing on their produce a duty equal to that which the 
United States tariff levied on the products of Canada. 
Through the columns of The St. Catherine's Journal, 
Mr. Merritt kept up an active agitation for reciprocity. 
One of the advantages of that policy would be. The 
Journal declared, " to remove the uncertainty " which 
now existed in the minds of men as to the future 
relations of the colony to the mother coimtry and 
the United States. " Make Canada prosperous, and 
nothing more would be heard about annexation." 
But prosperity, it concluded, could only be attained 
by a bold comprehensive scheme of reciprocity.' 

The cry was heartily taken up by the majority of 
the Reform papers, as the best antidote to the clamour 
of annexation. The Examiner voiced the feelings of 
many of the party in declaring that, if reciprocity were 
refused, Canadians would be driven to some other 
remedy to extricate themselves from the disadvan- 
tageous position in which they were placed.* It ex- 
pressed grave doubts as to the wisdom of resorting to 
retaliatory measures against the United States, even 
though England should consent to adopt such tactics, 
which, however, was most improbable. Reciprocity 
as an antidote for annexation was, under existing 
circumstances, not a very hopeful policy. It was ready 
to admit, however, that the passage of a Reciprocity 
Bill in Congress would put the question of annexation 
in abeyance for the time being, though it was extremely 
doubtful if such a measure would extinguish all future 

* The Journal and Express, November i, 1849 

• The Examiner, September 3, 1849. 

The Collapse of the Movement 331 

agitation.* In their exasperation against the selfish 
policy of the United States, some of the Reformers 
went so far as to join with the Conservative Party in 
advocating the imposition of retaliatory protective 
duties on American products, in case the United 
States would not agree to reciprocity.* 

The Governor-General continued to urge upon the 
Secretary for the Colonies the imperative necessity of 
securing a market for Canadian products in the United 
States. The prices of all natural products were, he 
pointed out, considerably lower in Canada than across 
the border. " So long as this state of things continues, 
there will be discontent in this country ; deep growing 
discontent. You will not, I trust, accuse me of having 
deceived you on this point. I have always said that 
I am prepared to assume the responsibility of keeping 
Canada quiet with a much smaller garrison than we 
have now, and without any tax on the British con- 
sumer in the shape of protection to Canadian products, 
if you put our trade on as good a footing as that of our 
American neighbours ; but, if things remain on their 
present footing in this respect, there is nothing before 
us but violent agitation, ending in convulsion or an- 
nexation. It is better that I should worry you with 
my importunity, than that I should be chargeable with 
having neglected to give you due warning. You have 
a great opportunity before you — obtain reciprocity for 
us, and I venture to predict that you will be able 
shortly to point to this hitherto turbulent colony with 
satisfaction, in illustration of the tendency of self- 
government and freedom of trade to beget contentment 
and material progress. Canada will remain attached 
to England, though tied to her neither by the golden 
links of protection, nor by the meshes of old-fashioned 
Colonial Office jobbing and chicane. But, if you allow 
the Americans to withhold the boon, which you have 

^ The Examiner, February 20, 1850. 

2 See resolution of the Reformers in Lough, The Examiner^ 
February 13, 1850. 

332 The Collapse of the Movement 

the means of extorting, if you^ will, I much fear that 
the closing period of the connection between Great 
Britain and Canada will be marked by incidents which 
will damp the ardour of those who desire to promote 
human happiness by striking shackles either off com- 
merce or off men." ^ 

The introduction of two Reciprocity Bills into Con- 
gress revived the hopes of the Canadian people. A 
group of Toronto business men resolved to send the 
Hon. M. Cameron to Washington to cultivate the ac- 
quaintance of Congressmen, and to promote as far as 
possible the passage of a satisfactory Bill. Although 
of a private nature, this mission was undertaken with 
the approval and sanction of the local Government. 
A treacherous attempt was made by some of the 
Annexationists to defeat the object of the mission. In 
Toronto, an effort was made to persuade the mercantile 
communityjthat the real purpose of Cameron was " to 
frustrate reciprocity and promote annexation." * The 
two annexation organs in Montreal did not hesitate to 
call upon Congress to defeat any reciprocity measures, 
for fear that the enactment of such a Bill might stifle 
the demand for annexation in Canada.* So far did 
they carry their opposition, that they endeavoured to 
prejudice the Southern Congressmen against Cameron 
by pointing out that he was a strong opponent of 
slavery. They preferred, according to The Kingston 
News, " to see reciprocity in human chattels rather 
than in trade." * 

After the failure of the Dix Bill, the agents of the 
British Government at Washington resolved to adopt 
somewhat different tactics in order to overcome the 

* November 8, 1849 {Letters and Journals of Lord Elgin, p. 102). 
' The Examiner, February 13, 1850. 

' Tfie New York Herald maintained, on the contrary, that the 
closer the commercial relations of the two countries, the nearer they 
would be drawn together pohtically. It disapproved of both the 
tactics and the arguments of The Montreal Courier upon this phase 
of the question. 

* Quoted from Tht Colonist, March 5, 1850. 

The Collapse of the Movement 383 

opposition of the Congressmen from the South. The 
latter, as we have seen, were inclined to look upon 
reciprocity as a disguised scheme of annexation, to 
which they were resolutely opposed. A strong effort 
was made to remove this erroneous impression, and 
to present the question of reciprocity in relation to 
annexation in its true light. Representations were 
accordingly made to the Southern members to the 
effect that the heart of the Canadian demand for an- 
nexation was not the desire to become Americans, but 
rather the desire, amounting almost to a necessity, of 
securing an entrance into the United States market. 
It followed, as a natural consequence, that the best and 
simplest way of defeating all projects for a political 
union would be to satisfy the Canadian demand for 
reciprocity.* Mr. Cameron was likewise advised, prior 
to his departure, to make similar representations to the 
Southern Congressmen.* 

But the combined efforts of the English and Canadian 
Governments again failed to move Congress. At first 
the prospects seemed favourable. On January 29, a 
Reciprocity Bill was reported in the House of Repre- 
sentatives by Mr. McLean, from the Committee of 
Commerce, and after the first and second readings was 
referred to the Committee of the Whole.' A few days 
later Senator Douglas presented a Billin the Upper 
House providing for the free navigation of the St. 
Lawrence and the reciprocal free exchange of certain 
products of the respective countries. But both 
measures were subsequently lost in committee. The 
hostility of the Southern members and the opposition 
of the Northern protectionists again proved too strong 
for the supporters of reciprocity. The New York 
Tribune, * the leading protectionist organ of the country, 
came out flatly against any commercial arrangement 

^ The New York Herald, quoted in Th» Colonist, October 9, 

2 The Mirror, February 15, 1850. 

3 /. H. R., 1849-50, p. 428. 
* February 11, 1850. 

334 The Collapse of the Movement 

with Canada, unless accompanied by annexation. In 
the face of all these hostile influences, the diplomacy of 
the Canadian authorities was of little avail. Congress 
was not yet ready to consider the question of reciprocity 
upon its merits. Reciprocity was not a subject " about 
which any national or even party feeling could be 
aroused. It was one which required much study to 
understand its bearings, and which would affect differ- 
ent interests in the country in different ways. It 
stood, therefore, especially in need of the aid of pro- 
fessional organizers ; a kind of aid of which it was 
of course impossible that either the British or the 
Canadian Government should avail itself." ^ 

The approaching session of Parliament promised to 
be unusually interesting, owing to the peculiar position 
and uncertain relationships of the various party groups 
in the Assembly. Nominally the Ministry had a large 
majority in the House, but in fact the Reform Party 
was rent in twain. The possible organization of a 
separate annexationist group further complicated the 
situation. The standing of the several parties was 
approximately : Reformers 34 ; Clear Grits 22 ; Con- 
servatives 20 ; Annexationists 7. In the last-men- 
tioned group were reckoned De Witt, Holmes, McConnell, 
Egan, Papineau, Sanborn, and Prince. The keenest 
speculation was rife as to the attitude of the Clear Grits 
towards the Government, and as to the policy of the 

The question as to whether the annexation members 
should form a separate party or not had already been 
discussed at length by some of the annexation journals. 
The Toronto Independent did not think that the group 
was strong enough as yet to organize an independent 
party ; nor did it approve of the several members of 
the group retaining their former political affiliations 
for general party purposes ; it recommended, on the 
contrary, an opportunist policy of friendly co-opera- 
tion with the Clear Grit members. It laid down the 

» LetUrs and Journals of Lord Elgin, p. 107. 

The Collapse of the Movement 335 

dictum that every measure should be considered in 
reference to its effect upon annexation. " As elective 
institutions from the Governor downwards would be 
one of the most striking changes which would accom- 
pany the admission of Canada as a sovereign state into 
the American Union," the annexation members would 
be expected " to take every opportunity of urging the 
adoption of elective institutions, not as an end, but as 
an instalment of the reforms they seek, and as a 
preparation for it." ^ For similar reasons, added The 
Montreal Herald, the annexation group would naturally 
support the principle of religious equality, the curtail- 
ment of the civil list, and all such measures and reforms 
as were calculated to prepare the way for union with 
the United States,* 

At the opening of the session, a clever appeal was 
made by The Montreal Courier to the Clear Grit Party 
to assume the leadership of the progressive forces in 
opposition to the Government. " With such pilots at 
the helm, we shall have some hope for the advancement 
and prosperity of our common country, besides the 
assurance that we shall then have made one capital 
move in the right direction for independence." * But 
the Clear Grit Party was not in a position to lead, even 
had it so desired ; it was sadly in want of responsible 
leaders, and by no means certain of its own policy and 
political principles. 

The speech of the Governor-General, in opening 
Parliament, referred to the annexation movement in 
the following terms : 

" I have deemed it my duty in the exercise of the 
prerogative . . . to mark Her Majesty's disapprobation 
of the course taken by persons holding commissions at 
the pleasure of the Crown, who have formally avowed 
the desire to bring about the separation of this province 
from the empire. . . . 

* Quoted from The Hamilton Spectator, January 5, 1850. 
' Quoted from The Toronto Mirror, January 18, 1850. 
Quoted from The Globe, May 14, 1850. 

336 The Collapse of the Movement 

" The views put forward by these persons, and by 
those who act with them, do not, I have reason to 
beheve, find favour with any considerable portion of 
Her Majesty's subjects. 

"The great majority of the people of the province 
have given at this juncture proofs not to be mistaken 
of loyalty to the Queen and attachment to the con- 
nection with Great Britain, 

" They look to their own Parliament for the redress 
of grievances which may be proved to exist, and for the 
adoption of such measures of improvement as may be 
calculated to promote their happiness and prosperity." 

In the Legislative Council, the Hon. P. B. De 
Blaqui^re moved an ultra-patriotic address to the 
Queen expressive of the devoted loyalty of the Upper 
Chamber to the mother country. It was highly im- 
portant, in his judgment, that the Council should pro- 
nounce its opinion on the subject of annexation, since 
the views of various irresponsible bodies had been freely 
expressed throughout the province, and had created 
a false impression in England as to the state of Canadian 
feeling. The motion was supported by the Hon. A. 
Ferguson, on the groimd that " it would have the effect 
of attracting a large number of immigrants to Canada." 
On both sides of the House there was general con- 
demnation of annexation. The motion was carried 

In the Legislative Assembly, the question of separa- 
tion was raised at the very outset by Colonel Prince in 
presenting the petition of his constituents for inde- 
pendence. He took occasion to deny the allegation that 
the petition was signed by Americans ; it was, in truth, 
a Canadian document, to which were appended the 
names of many of the most respected residents of the 
district. He was proud to introduce " the first petition 
ever presented to a British Parliament for separation 
from the British nation." At this point the Speaker 
intervened to call the attention of the House to the 
singular character of the subject-matter of the petition ; 

The Collapse of the Movement 337 

whereupon Mr. Baldwin moved that the petition be 
not received. 

The motion of the Attorney-General brought on a 
brief but animated discussion. It was contended by 
Colonel Prince that all British subjects had a con- 
stitutional right to present their petitions to Parlia- 
ment, and that it was a tyrannical exercise of authority 
to dispose of the matter in so cursory a fashion. Other 
petitions of a similar character would soon be forth- 
coming. There was a time, he claimed, when Bald- 
win would have signed the petition ; but the truth of 
the statement was immediately challenged by the 
Attorney-General. Mr. Papineau came to the support 
of his colleague. The House, he maintained, had no 
constitutional right to stand between the petitioners 
and the Throne. He charged the Government with 
pursuing a deliberate policy of endeavouring to suppress 
freedom of thought and speech, outside the House as 
well as within. There was not, he concluded, an 
English statesman who did not admit the incapacity of 
England to administer the colonies. 

Colonel Gugy stirred up the feelings of the members 
by making a slashing attack on the principle of inde- 
pendence. Canada, he asserted, was incapable of sus- 
taining at present an independent status. Under such 
a regime " the country would be overrun and destroyed 
by loafers." Malcolm Cameron calmed the rising 
temper of the House by a dispassionate discussion of 
the legal aspects of the question. He was afraid that 
his conduct in supporting the member for Kent might 
be misunderstood ; for, although he did not share the 
opinions of the petitioners, he was compelled on con- 
stitutional grounds to vindicate their right of petition. 
He did not think that there were more than thirty 
persons in favour of independence in all the Western 
District. Canada, he believed, was much better off as 
a colony than she would be if annexed to the United 
States. He urged that the petition be referred to a 
committee where it could be more effectually repudiated, 


338 The Collapse of the Movement 

than by summarily refusing to accept it. Notwith- 
standing this able plea for due consideration of the 
petition, the motion of the Attorney-General was 
adopted by the overwhelming vote of 57 Ayes to 7 
Nays, the latter consisting of Messrs. Cameron, De Witt, 
Holmes, McConnell, Papineau, Prince, and Sanborn. 

The summary action of the Assembly in throwing out 
the petition was intended to show to the country at 
large that the popular chamber had no sjnnpathy 
whatever with any schemes of disloyalty, and would 
refuse to entertain any such proposals. The decisive 
action of the Ministry in moving the rejection of the 
petition won the general commendation of the Re- 
formers throughout the province, but was severely 
criticized by the annexation organs and by a few of the 
Tory papers, in particular by The Montreal Gazette} 

In the debate on the address but little attention was 
paid to the question of annexation. The mover of the 
address merely referred to the general satisfaction of 
the public at the dismissal of the objectionable officials, 
while the seconder failed to notice the topic. Several 
members of the opposition, however, took occasion to 
censure the Government for arbitrarily interfering with 
the liberty of its servants, and for misrepresenting the 
condition of the country in the speech of the Governor- 
General. In reply to these criticisms, the Inspector- 
General, the Hon. Francis Hincks, briefly stated that 
there was the greater reason in this case for prompt and 
decisive action on the part of the Ministry in making 
the dismissals in question, since some of the members 
of the Government had been wrongfully suspected of 
disloyalty. Under these circumstances, a mere passive 
attitude, or a failure to act, would almost certainly 
have been construed by the country at large as a tacit 
approval of the treasonable activities of some of the 
servants of the State. The Government was in honour 
bound to vindicate its own loyalty, as well as to main- 
tain the supremacy of the Crown. 

» The Gazette, May 21, 1850. 

The Collapse of the Movement 339 

The question of annexation came up for a lively 
discussion, upon an amendment to the address in 
favour of household suffrage and an elective Legislative 
Council, which was introduced by Mr. Boulton of 
Norfolk, at the instance of the Radical section of the 
Clear Grit Party. The Ministers found themselves 
attacked on all sides by the different party groups. 
The annexation members joined with the Tories in 
making a vigorous assault upon the general policy of 
the Government, while the Clear Grits added their 
quota of criticism in respect to certain features of the 
administration. But little attempt was made to con- 
fine the discussion to the specific amendment before 
the House. 

On the Tory side, the principal speakers were Sir 
Allan MacNab, Colonel Gugy, and Mr. Badgley. The 
disorganization of the party was revealed most clearly 
in the divergent opinions of the party leaders upon the 
question . Some of the members of the party condemned 
the action of the Executive on general party principles, 
while others supported the Government on patriotic 
grounds. To the first of these classes belonged Sir 
Allan MacNab, who made an ill-advised effort to justify 
the Tory Annexationists of Montreal. The annexation 
movement was occasioned, in his judgment, by the 
Rebellion Losses Bill. " He believed that there was not 
a more loyal body of men in the world " than the self- 
same Montreal Annexationists. 

But the attitude of the Conservative leader did not 
commend itself to some of his colleagues, who were not 
yet ready to justify, let alone commend, the treasonable 
conduct of their fellow partisans. The gallant knight 
was severely taken to task by Colonel Gugy for his 
cordial tone towards the Annexationists. On this 
question, the latter declared, he was forced to part com- 
pany with his political friends, and impelled to support 
the policy of the Government. He warned the leaders 
of the party, that, even though an alliance were made 
with the republican members of the House, for the 

840 The Collapse of the Movement 

overthrow of the Government, it would still be impos- 
sible to form a Coalition Ministry out of such discordant 
elements. The result of the annexation movement 
' ' had been the complete disruption of the Conservative 
Party. They had now no party to fall back on." The 
Annexationists had appealed to the selfish interests of 
the public, and had sought to deceive the people by 
glowing prospects of prosperity. But the effect of the 
investment of American capital would not, as repre- 
sented, redound to the advantage of Canada ; on the 
contrary, it would serve to " create a moneyed aristo- 
cracy of foreigners," and reduce the native popula- 
tion to the European level of dependents upon their 
wealthier neighbours. 

In the heat of his temper, the gallant Colonel allowed 
his tongue to run away with his judgment, and most 
brutally assailed the character of th^ Annexationists 
in coarse and vulgar language, unbecoming a gentle- 
man, and unworthy of a member of the Chamber. 
Some of the leaders of that party were accused of 
speculating in flour ; " and the vice of avarice was 
common to them all." Mr. Redpath was aptly de- 
scribed as an ambitious tradesman who had amassed 
a fortune, and wished to heap up more. In conclusion, 
the honourable member most heartily commended the 
course of the Government in dismissing those officials 
who were basely using an influence derived from the 
Crown for the overthrow of the institutions they had 
sworn to maintain. 

A much more liberal view of the conduct of the 
Annexationists was taken by Mr. Badgley, who con- 
tended that, if the manifesto was treasonable, there was 
an excellent precedent for it in the memorial of the 
Montreal Board of Trade. Moreover, the question of 
separation had been freely discussed in England 
without public criticism or suspicion of seditious pro- 
ceedings. Twenty years before, Canning had stated 
that he was bringing up the Canadas with a view to 
handing them over to the United States. The fact that 

The Collapse of the Movement 341 

annexation was not making progress throughout the 
province afforded the best of reasons for decHning to 
dismiss the Annexationists. As it was, the arbitrary 
action of the Government had occasioned much bitter- 
ness of feeling, whereas an effort should have been made 
to win the wayward officials back to a sense of their 
duty to the Crown and country. 

The annexation members, as was to be expected, took 
a prominent part in the discussion. The slanderous 
attack of Colonel Gugy upon the morality of the mem- 
bers of the party naturally aroused the ire of the an- 
nexation group, and fortunately afforded them a 
distinct point of advantage in the ensuing debate, 
of which they made good use. They did not fail 
to point out that this sweeping indictment would 
include a majority of the Colonel's fellow partisans of 
Montreal, and a large proportion of estimable citi- 
zens throughout the province. The members of the 
group carefully avoided, throughout their speeches, 
any political appeal to either of the old-line parties. 
The purity of their motives, the evils of the colonial 
regime, the natural advantages of separation, and 
the commercial benefits of annexation were the 
recurrent themes of all their arguments. 

Mr. Sanborn, against whom the brunt of the loyalist 
attack was directed, acquitted himself well under the 
circumstances. He professed to enjoy a privileged 
position in the House, as an independent member free 
from all party restrictions and control. He took ex- 
ception to the assertion of the leader of the Opposition 
that the Rebellion Losses Bill was the occasion of the 
annexation movement. There was, in his opinion, 
far more sympathy in the Legislature with the 
cause of annexation than appeared on the surface, 
since many of the members did not think the mo- 
ment as yet opportune to express their true feel- 
ings upon the question. The Executive, he asserted, 
had exercised the power of dismissal in an arbitrary 
manner. Some of the victims of the Government's 

842 The Collapse of the Movement 

displeasure were "notoriously the best men in the 

Upon Mr. Holmes devolved the task of developing 
the chief constructive argument for the Annexationists. 
His speech on this occasion was delivered with more 
than ordinary force and persuasiveness. He prefaced 
his argument by a roseate picture of the progress of 
annexation sentiment throughout the province, and 
by a tribute to the respectability of the adherents of 
that faith. " In Lower Canada, and especially in the 
district of Montreal, a large proportion of the people 
were in favour of annexation. ' ' They might be slightly 
in advance of the time, " but the day was not far 
distant when the farmers, merchants, and people of 
Upper Canada would also see that their best interests 
would be promoted by annexation." 

Turning then to the consideration of Canada's rela- 
tion to the mother country, he maintained that the 
public had a right freely to discuss the subject of 
annexation, provided they did so peaceably, and with 
due respect to the wishes of Great Britain in the matter. 
He did not think that the despatch of Earl Grey had 
had the anticipated effect of checking the annexation 
movement. The Colonial Secretary, he averred, would 
never have dared to address such minatory language 
to the people of England, though many of the latter 
had publicly expressed more decided opinions on the 
advantages of colonial independence than were to be 
found in the Montreal manifesto. The despatch of his 
lordship was, in fact, characteristic of the ignorance 
and superciliousness of Downing Street officials, which 
rendered a further continuance of the imperial regime 
injurious to the interests of Canada, if not politically 
impossible. Strikingly different, however, was the 
situation of the United States. " He believed that 
the United States possessed more freedom than any 
other nation, that they had more energy and less 
poverty, and that education and the elements of 
happiness were more generally diffused than among 

The Collapse of the Movement 343 

any other people, and he hoped that Canada would 
one day be joined to that nation, and he was not 
ashamed nor afraid to express that opinion. He was 
ready, as he had been before, to sacrifice his life in 
defence of Britain, so long as we remained connected 
with her, both for the interests of Canada and the 
mother country ; but, for the interests of himself and 
his family, he desired to see annexation effected with 
the consent of both parties." 

The speech of the member for Kent was much more 
defiant in tone, but proportionally less substantial in 
subject matter, than that of his colleague. Notwith- 
standing his professed opposition to annexation, Colonel 
Prince was always found co-operating most heartily 
with the annexation members, and was regarded by 
the House at large as a regular member of that group. 
With him, in truth, independence was only a means 
to an end, and that end was annexation. He boldly 
defied the Colonial Secretary to prosecute him for 
advocating independence, or to punish the Annexa- 
tionists for their political acts. The annexation move- 
ment, he averred, had taken a firm hold on all sections 
of the community, as was evinced by the representative 
character of the annexation members of the House : 
Mr. Holmes was a representative of the commercial, 
De Witt of the banking, and Sanborn of the agricul- 
tural interests of the country. In reply to an inquiry 
of some of his constituents, he had olffered to resign if 
150 of the electors should express their dissatisfaction 
with his advocacy of independence ; but in the face 
of that offer, no steps whatever had been taken to 
unseat him. The people along the frontier, he claimed, 
were intimidated at present by the tyrannical action 
of the Government, but the result of the next election 
wo;ild unmistakably prove that the country was ripe 
for separation. He did not favour a revolt, nor would 
he raise an arm against the Queen, but he did demand 
the right to petition Parliament for the redress ol 
grievances. He denied the accusation of The Montreal 

844 The Collapse of the Movement 

Pilot that he had induced one of his French-Canadian 
constituents to canvass the French members of the 
House in favour of annexation. 

Mr. McConnell declared that he was an out-and-out 
Annexationist. He did not believe that the sentiment 
of the Eastern Townships was more pronouncedly for 
annexation than that of other parts of the country. 
The withdrawal of the English preference had been 
ruinous to the business interests of Lower Canada. 
Grass was growing in the streets of Montreal ; their 
sons were leaving for the United States, and their 
daughters were following after. There was no local 
market in Lower Canada, and but a limited one in 
Canada West ; and at the American border their 
products were met by a 20-per-cent. duty. Under 
such circumstances, he concluded, annexation was 

Papineau was the only French-Canadian speaker to 
support the amendment. Taking his cue from his 
fellow Annexationists, he wisely avoided all reference 
to recent racial issues, and confined his remarks to 
the consideration of the commercial advantages of a 
political union with the Republic. " Prosperity," he 
declared, " would coincide with their annexation to 
the United States." 

On the ministerial side of the House, participation 
in the debate was confined to the back benchers. It 
was very interesting to see Dr. Wolfred Nelson, the 
former lieutenant of Papineau, now fighting on the 
pro-British side against his old leader. Into the 
political arena he carried the same courage and high- 
mindedness he had previously shown on the battlefield. 
He was quick to resent the taunts of some of the 
Tory members that the Reformers of 1837 ^^^^^ rebels, 
and that the object of that revolt was to throw off the 
British yoke. The so-called rebels of that day had 
been the truer patriots, for they had struggled to 
secure for their fellow citizens those liberal principles of 
the British Constitution which they were now enjoying. 

The Collapse of the Movement 345 

Very different, he contended, in origin and character 
was the present annexation cry, which had been worked 
up by a few disappointed Tory poHticians who found 
they could no longer rule the Colonial Office by back- 
stairs influence. 

Mr. Ross, the newly elected member for Megantic, 
severely rebuked the member for Sherbrooke for ven- 
turing to advocate annexation in the House, after 
having so recently sworn allegiance to the Sovereign 
on taking his seat in the Chamber. Mr. Couchon 
voiced the sentiments of the French-Canadian sup- 
porters of the Government in condemning the agitation 
of Papineau in favour of annexation. The latter, he 
claimed, had not only signally failed in his propaganda 
among his fellow countrymen, but could no longer be 
considered as truly representing the views of his own 

Upon division, the amendment was defeated by 51 
to 13. The majority of the Government was unex- 
pectedly large, owing to the defection of a number of 
Clear Grits, who, notwithstanding their approval of 
the amendment, refused to assist the Opposition in 
an adroit attempt to turn out the Government on 
a specious issue. In accordance with their political 
programme, the annexation members supported the 
amendment in a body. 

The annexation issue was fought over again on an 
amendment of Colonel Prince condemning the Govern- 
ment for the annexation dismissals : " That this House 
regrets that the policy of Great Britain towards this 
colony, and the conduct of the Government here, 
should have been such as to give cause to many of 
the most loyal and upright men in the country to seek 
for a remedy to the evils they complain of, in a change 
of our institutions ; and this House cannot admit that 
the declaration of political sentiments, not coupled 
with any hostile intent against the Crown and Sove- 
reignty of Great Britain, is sufficient to warrant the 
Executive in dismissing persons from offices of honour. 

346 The Collapse of the Movement 

and that such a proceeding is, in the opinion of this 
House, calculated to increase the prevailing discontent." 

The speech of the member for Kent, in support of 
the motion, was largely a repetition of his former 
utterances. He triumphantly referred to the fact that 
no petition against annexation had been presented to 
the House, as an evidence of widespread sympathy 
with that cause. It was useless for the public, he con- 
tended, to look to Parliament for relief, since the local 
Legislature was powerless to obtain reciprocity or in- 
dependence, the two chief boons which the country 
desired. Mr. Holmes was again the chief spokesman 
of the Annexationists. He developed at length his 
previous argument as to the respective advantages 
and disadvantages of the imperial connection and of 
a union with the United States. A peaceful separation 
with the consent of Great Britain would, he main- 
tained, be mutually beneficial to the motherland and 
Canada ; but, without such consent, the Annexation- 
ists would consider it " neither practicable nor desir- 
able." As a part of the United States, Canada would 
share in the large investments of English capital which 
now went to the United States in preference to the 
colonies. Nothing, he concluded, could stop the pro- 
gress of the annexation movement. Instead of 7, 
there would soon be 70 members of the Legislature 
signing petitions to the Crown for independence. 

The remaining annexationist speakers did not con- 
tribute anything new or valuable to the discussion. 
Mr. Sanborn, however, got in one good home-thrust 
at the weakness of the Ministry. The Government, he 
bitingly remarked, could not be as strongly supported 
on this question as they pretended to be, or else they 
would not require the valiant assistance of Colonel 

The views of the Tory speakers were again at sixes 
and sevens, varying all the way from an attempted 
justification of the propaganda of the Annexationists, 
to the severest condemnation of their proceedings. 

The Collapse of the Movement 347 

Sir Allan MacNab insinuated that some of the members 
of the Cabinet were favourable to annexation. An 
alleged confession of La Minerve afforded evidence of 
the complicity of the Government in the movement. 
Unfortunately for the honourable member, he was un- 
able to substantiate his charge when its truth was 
called in question by Mr. Hincks. With singular in- 
consistency, he subsequently accused the Government 
of making use of the columns of La Minerve to give 
currency to their opposition to annexation. 

Of the other Conservative speakers, Messrs. Cayley 
and Robinson were principally concerned in an attempt 
to make political capital out of the situation. The 
former assumed the diplomatic position of declining 
on general principles to censure the dismissal of the 
annexation officials ; but, at the same time, he con- 
demned in this instance " the unscrupulous exercise of 
the prerogative for party advantage." His colleague, 
Mr. Robinson, went one stage further in criticism of the 
Government. The Annexationists, he contended, ought 
not to have been dismissed, since they did not intend to 
take any decisive action without the previous consent 
of the Crown. He accused the Ministry of unjust 
discrimination in the infliction of penalties. Why, he 
demanded, had they punished the signers of the mani- 
festo, while they permitted the publication of annexa- 
tion papers to proceed untouched ? The Government 
were responsible for the existing spirit of discontent, 
which, unless soon checked, would sweep the whole 
population into the annexation movement. 

On the other hand, a few Tory members rallied 
patriotically to the support of the Executive. Mr. Sher- 
wood of Toronto expressed the strongest disapproval 
of the actions of the Nationalists and Annexationists 
alike. No Government which was worthy of the name 
could supinely permit its servants to attempt its own 
overthrow ; from its very nature, a Government was 
bound to suppress with all its authority all acts " of 
constructive treason." The extenuating pleas of Mac- 

348 The Collapse of the Movement 

Nab and Robinson for the Annexationists again called 
forth a fiery protest from Colonel Gugy. The signers 
of the manifesto, he maintained, had forfeited their 
right to object to the proceedings of the Executive, as 
had also their defenders in the House. Some of the 
Annexationists, it was evident, were determined to 
effect their object by force if necessary, but he warned 
the plotters that, should such an attempt be made, 
two or three hundred thousand men would be ready to 
attest their loyalty to the Crown and country. What- 
ever might be the political differences of the two sides 
of the House on matters of general policy, both Re- 
formers and Conservatives would unite to uphold the 
British Constitution. He derided the specious pro- 
fessions of loyalty on the part of the Annexationists. 
" Were he to set up his previous loyalty as giving him 
the right to overthrow the institutions of the country, 
he should expose himself to condemnation." He be- 
lieved that the attention of the country should be 
directed to the impolicy of extending political privileges 
to persons of Sanborn's class, who came into the province 
with Yankee prejudices, and with the intent to over- 
throw, if possible, English institutions. In conclusion, 
he made an embittered attack upon the capacity and 
character of the member for Sherbrooke, whose defeat 
he regarded as certain at the next election. 

Of the Clear Grit members of the House, Messrs. 
Cameron and Lyon heartily commended the action of 
the Government in making the dismissals. They like- 
wise shared the opinion that annexation would not 
improve the condition of Canada. The latter further 
maintained that the political institutions of the colony 
were freer than those of the United States. By an- 
nexation, Canada would lose control over her own 
administration, and subject herself to the will of her 
more powerful neighbour. Mr. Cameron approved of 
the strongest repressive measures against the Annexa- 
tionists. The signers of the manifesto should, in his 
opinion, have been immediately dismissed from office 

The Collapse of the Movement 849 

without the formality of an investigation. Notwith- 
standing the vain boastings of Colonel Prince, as to the 
strength of annexation sentiment in the west, he was 
prepared to certify to the loyalty of the great majority 
of the people of Kent. 

Mr. H. J. Boulton, on the other hand, contended that 
it was folly to suppose that the Canadian public would 
remain loyal to the British connection in the face of 
the growing distress of the country. He was not an 
Annexationist, but an advocate of unrestricted re- 
ciprocity. There was nothing illegal, he maintained, 
in the conduct of the signers of the manifesto, many of 
whom, in fact, were as loyal as himself. The action of 
the Ministry in making the dismissals was in this case 
the more reprehensible, since, according to the ad- 
mission of the Inspector-General, the Government was 
obliged to punish its servants, in order to remove 
suspicion from some of its own members. 

On the Government side of the House, two members 
of the Ministry participated briefly in the debate. In 
reply to Mr. Robinson's criticism of the immunity from 
prosecution of the annexation journals, the Hon. F. 
Hincks pointed out that there was a fundamental 
difference between the status of a servant of the Crown 
and that of a mere private citizen, a difference which 
placed upon the former a distinct responsibility for his 
political acts, to which the ordinary member of society 
was not subject. He challenged the member for Sher- 
brooke to compare, in his own case, the freedom of 
parliamentary discussion in the Canadian House with 
that in Congress. Would the latter, he demanded, 
permit one of its members freely to advocate the 
dismemberment of the Union ? He believed not. 
Yet Mr. Sanborn was claiming and exercising as a 
British subject a right which he would not enjoy as 
an American citizen. 

Mr. Drummond, the Solicitor-General, refuted the 
contention of the Annexationists that the Eastern Town- 
ships were favourable to annexation. Outside the 

350 The Collapse of the Movement 

County of Sherbrooke, he was convinced, a majority 
of the inhabitants were against it. He denied that 
La Minerve was the organ of the Government, or that 
the Ministry was in any way responsible for its utter- 
ances. True, a determined effort had been made to 
win La Minerve over to the side of the Annexationists, 
but the editor had nobly resisted all such pressure, and 
stood staunchly by the British connection. 

After an all-day debate, a division was taken which 
resulted in a crushing defeat of the amendment by 
a majority of over 30.^ The vote was a splendid vindi- 
cation of the decisive policy of the Executive in dealing 
with the Annexationists. The division list revealed the 
fact that the whole body of the Reformers, together 
with a few Clear Grits and Tories, rallied to the support 
of the Government. The majority of the Clear Grit 
members, including Perry and Hopkins, did not vote ; 
only two of the party voted for the amendment. The 
Tory Party also was sadly divided. A small minority 
threw aside their party prejudices, and loyally sup- 
ported the Ministry in the division lobby ; a consider- 
able number failed to vote ; while a small group of 
irreconcilables joined with the Annexationists in sup- 
porting the amendment. 

A second division was taken upon Mr. Boulton's 
amendment for the expunging of the last three para- 
graphs of the address, and the insertion of the following 
paragraphs : 

" That, while this House deeply regrets that the 
altered policy which the parent state has felt it neces- 
sary to adopt for her own advantage, and quite irre- 
spective of colonial interests, has led many loyal men 
in this province to consider whether they might not 
with equal right review their positions as Canadians, 
thus substantially changed to their detriment, yet this 
House is not prepared to concur with Your Excellency 

1 Aye3, ' 14; Noes, 46. Ayes, Badgley, Boulton (Norfolk), 
Boulton (Toronto), Christie, De Witt, Egan, Holmes, MacNab, 
McConnell, McLean, Papineau, Prince, Robinson, and Sanborn. 

The Collapse of the Movement 351 

in the opinion that persons, many of whom have hereto- 
fore perilled their lives and fortunes, and sacrificed 
their property in defence of the unity of the empire, 
should, while suffering under the adverse circumstances 
which have since befallen them, and which they believe 
are the result of that change of policy which they could 
neither avert nor control, and without any misconduct 
of their own, be now dealt with as persons innately 
disloyal, and scarcely less than traitors, and unworthy 
of being longer retained in Her Majesty's service, 
because they ventured in calm and temperate language 
to discuss the cause of their misfortune, and to submit 
for the consideration of the parent state the unreason- 
ableness of her placing them upon the footing of 
foreigners with regard to her markets, while their 
colonial dependence forbids them availing themselves 
of those advantages in foreign markets which a really 
national character would not prevent them from ac- 

" That this House is firmly convinced that the great 
body of the people of this province will yield to no other 
portion of Her Majesty's subjects in loyalty to Her 
Majesty, and attachment to the parent state ; but they 
would fail in their duty to Her Majesty, were they to 
abstain from expressing a strong opinion to Your Ex- 
cellency that it is not by distrusting some and punish- 
ing others, and stifling discussion through fear of 
official displeasure, that erroneous opinions either of 
duty or interest are to be eradicated, but by upholding 
and maintaining that greater guarantee of national 
freedom, the right of public discussion." 

This amendment was likewise defeated on a similar 
division list, by 44 votes to 12. 

The conduct of some of the Tory and Clear Grit 
members in supporting these amendments was un- 
doubtedly open to question, but a considerable portion 
of the responsibility must be credited to the faulty 
tactics of Sir Allan MacNab, and to the general demora- 
lization of parties in the House, which, for a time. 

352 The Collapse of the Movement 

weakened the sense of political responsibility. The 
, majority of the Tory members were unquestionably loyal 
at heart, but some of them could not resist the chance 
of embarrassing the Government by a temporary mis- 
alliance with the Annexationists. A few of the Clear 
Grits, likewise, were tempted to vote against the 
Government by a feeling of political disappointment, 
rather than by any settled conviction in favour of 
annexation. On the other hand, it should not be for- 
gotten that the patriotic stand of a small minority of 
the Tory and Clear Grit members materially assisted the 
Government at a truly critical moment. 

This series of rebuffs apparently convinced the 
Annexationists of the hopelessness of again raising the 
question of annexation in the House, for the subject 
was allowed to drop for the remainder of the session. 
The cause did not make any converts in either chamber. 
A few of the Tory and Clear Grit members were inclined 
to sympathize with the Annexationists, partly on 
economic, and partly on political, grounds, but their 
sympathies were not sufficiently developed to commit 
them to the policy of separation. They preferred to 
stand aside from the agitation, and await the course 
of events. With the gradual return of prosperity, 
and the raising of new political issues, the question 
of annexation fell completely into the background in 
Parliament. The speech of the Governor-General in 
proroguing the Legislature fittingly contained a refer- 
ence to the loyal addresses of the two Houses, which 
expressed " the sentiments of the great body of the 
Canadian people as truly as those of Parliament." The 
Government, in fact, heartily congratulated itself and 
the country at large upon the collapse of an agitation 
which was dangerous alike to the Crown and the 
political institutions of the province. 

Thanks to a bountiful harvest in the Fall of 1849, 
economic conditions in Upper Canada began slowly 
to improve. American buyers invaded the Western 
District, and carried away the surplus products of the 

The Collapse of the Movement 853 

Canadian farmers.* The upward tendency of trade 
was revealed in an increase of customs receipts, an 
easier money market, and a slight improvement in 
industrial conditions. The merchants of the country 
began to take heart. The Council of the Board of 
Trade of Toronto, in their annual report,' declared 
that it looked forward with confidence to the increasing 
prosperity " which the liberahty of the motherland in 
altering the Navigation Laws could not fail of pro- 
ducing." This confidence was not misplaced. The 
commercial prospects of the country were, according 
to The Globe,* never more auspicious. With the open- 
ing up of navigation, the ships of all nations sought 
out the ports of the St. Lawrence for ocean cargoes. 
The business instincts of the Montreal tradesmen were 
again aroused. They were, after all, primarily domes- 
tic economists, and not politicians ; only the force of 
circumstances had turned their minds towards political 

The revival of business dealt a crushing blow to the 
cause of annexation. The rapid spread of the agitation 
had been largely due, as we have seen, to the belief 
that the imperial connection was responsible for the 
depression of the colony. The gradual return of pros- 
perity destroyed this fundamental tenet of the Annexa- 
tionists. The mercantile community recognized the 
mistake they had made, and were glad to return to 
their former political allegiance. The annexation 
movement was in reality but a passing phase of the 
economic history of the colony ; it was essentially 
the product of adversity and resentment against the 
English Government, and it could not thrive during 
a period of returning prosperity. The history of 
Canada shows that, at each recurrent cycle of com- 
mercial depression, the thoughts of a section of the 
public as naturaUy turns to the United States as the 

1 The Globe., November 20, 1849. 

* January 19, 1850. 

3 The Globe, March 14, 1850. 


854 The Collapse of the Movement 

minds of the Western American farmers to fiat money. 
Depression and annexation on the one hand, content- 
ment and loyalty on the other, have been, and perhaps 
may still be, correlative terms in the records of the 

Among the various factors which contributed to the 
failure of the annexation movement should be men- 
tioned the sound political tactics of the Governor- 
General and his advisers. The presence of Lord Elgin 
undoubtedly had an unfavourable influence on many 
of the members of the Tory Party, and, to some 
extent, justified the boast of the Annexationists that 
every day of such a Governor " adds to the unpopularity 
of the connection of a country which saddles us with 
such a man " ; but, at the same time, it brought even 
greater compensating advantages, for his far-seeing 
statesmanship had disarmed the hostility of the French 
and English Reformers, and had bound up their in- 
terests with the maintenance of the British connection. 
He had established the most cordial relations with 
Lafontaine and his friends ; and, by his liberal sym- 
pathies with the aspirations of the French, had suc- 
ceeded in winning over the bulk of the French-Canadian 
population to the support of the policy of the admin- 
istration. By the Reformers of Upper Canada he was 
held in the highest honour. As a strictly constitutional 
Governor, he was able to exercise a much greater 
influence than any of his Tory predecessors. 

One of the most manifest weaknesses of the Annexa- 
tion Party, which foredoomed it to dissolution, was 
the almost total absence of unity or harmony among 
the members. The discordant elements of the party 
had never been properly united. The original alliance 
of the ultra-Tories and French Radicals had been irk- 
some and unnatural for both parties, and entirely 
lacking in the elements of cohesion and stability. The 
Tory members of the Bund were glad to withdraw 
from such an impolitic association. On the other 
hand, the decision of the British Ministry exercised 

The Collapse of the Movement 355 

little influence on the " Young Canada Party." They 
did not, like their allies, profess any attachment to the 
mother country, nor derive their political principles 
from her ; they were, on the contrary, by tradition 
and policy the bitter critics and foes of the adminis- 
tration of the Colonial Office. Save for the question 
of annexation, and a feeling of resentment against the 
Provincial and Imperial Governments, they had nothing 
in common with their Tory allies, while, on the other 
hand, they were seriously embarrassed in their demo- 
cratic propaganda by their compact with their former 
foes. They were exposed to the merciless criticism 
of betraying their nationality, for which they professed 
most ardently to stand. 

To the land speculators and mercantile community, 
as we have seen, the question of annexation was essen- 
tially an economic, and not a political, issue. Patriot- 
ism, with them, was a mere matter of book-keeping — a 
question of dollars and cents. They had little political 
sympathy with their partisan fellow members, whose 
bitter struggles had intensified the distress of the 
province. Least of all had they any fellowship with 
the French Radicals, whose political dogmas were 
anathema to them. With all these groups, in fact, 
a temporary policy of opportunism was the only bond 
of union. For the time being, their common commer- 
cial interests were sufficiently powerful to produce a 
semblance of co-operation ; but, with the revival of 
trade, the old underlying social and political differences 
among the members soon cropped out again to dis- 
integrate the local associations. 

Among the chief factors in defeating the annexation 
movement in Lower Canada was the loyalty of the 
bulk of the French population. Lord Elgin had keenly 
realized the importance of cultivating the friendship 
of the French-Canadians. In an early letter to the 
Colonial Secretary, he expressed the opinion that 
" the sentiment of French-Canadian nationality, which 
Papineau endeavours to pervert to purposes of faction. 

356 The Collapse of the Movement 

may yet perhaps, if properly improved, furnish the 
best remaining security against annexation to the 
United States." To this end, he deliberately set to 
work to cultivate the most friendly relations with the 
French-Canadian bishops and clergy, as the most im- 
portant factor in the life of the French population. 
This skilful diplomacy was rewarded with success. 
At the time the annexation agitation was rampant in 
Montreal and the Eastern Townships, the mass of the 
French-Canadians remained calm and unconcerned. 
With but few exceptions, their ears were closed to the 
popular appeals of the revolutionaries. The spiritual 
and political leaders of the people were shrewd enough 
to see that the preservation of their special religious 
and political privileges was bound up in the main- 
tenance of the British connection, and that annexation 
would almost necessarily involve the loss of constitu- 
tional guarantees of their distinct nationality. 

At the critical moment in the struggle, the clergy 
and seigneurs joined hands with the Government to 
defeat the policy of the Annexationists. They were 
loyal, not so much because they preferred to remain 
British subjects rather than to become American 
citizens, but because they desired to retain unimpaired 
their own language, religion, and nationality. They 
were passive rather than active loyalists, but their 
loyalty was based upon the strongest sentimental 
considerations. Against the united forces of Church 
and State, the Rouge Party could make little progress. 
The loyalty of the Catholic clergy, and the devotion 
of their simple parishioners, saved the day for the 
British connection ; for, had the French population 
been swayed by the same political and commercial 
considerations which appealed to their English fellow 
citizens, the Annexationists would almost certainly 
have swept the lower half of the province into the 
arms of the United States. The racial conservatism 
of the French habitants, by checking the rapid speed 
of annexation sentiment, afforded to the English 

The Collapse of the Movement 357 

population an opportunity of more carefully reviewing 
the situation of affairs ; and, on sober second thought, 
many of the latter were inclined to regret the hastiness 
with which they had joined in the agitation for sep- 
aration. The cautious conduct of the French-Cana- 
dians not only furnished a striking object-lesson to 
the English inhabitants of Lower Canada, but exercised 
a determinative influence upon the course of events 
in British North America. 

The annexation movement among the Clear Grits 
of Upper Canada was quite distinct in origin and 
character from that on the Lower St. Lawrence. It 
was undoubtedly greatly stimulated by the agitation 
in Montreal ; but, in reality, the Radicals of Upper 
Canada had but little social or political sympathy with 
the leaders of the movement in Lower Canada. The 
restlessness of the Clear Grits was due primarily to 
the existence of legitimate grievances which ought, 
long before, to have been rectified. There was little 
or no prospect of the redress of these grievances by 
an alliance with the Annexationists of Montreal, since 
the aims of the latter were directed to the attainment 
of different objects. For this reason, no intimate re- 
lationship was ever established between the scattered 
Annexationists among the Clear Grits and the various 
associations in Lower Canada. 

Matters might have been somewhat different with 
the Annexationists if they had succeeded in connecting 
the isolated movements in the various parts of the 
province. In Lower Canada, an effort was made to 
develop a provincial organization by affiliating the 
various local associations with the central body at 
Montreal. But the campaign in Upper Canada signally 
failed ; only two local associations were formed, and 
both of them were exceedingly weak. There was not 
even the semblance of a political organization. Under 
these circumstances, it was folly to think of calling a 
provincial convention, as had been the original in- 
tention of the Montreal association. In truth, the 

858 The Collapse of the Movement 

motley and discordant elements of which the annexa- 
tion party was composed were incapable of forming 
a provincial association, after the model of the League ; 
and, without some such organization, the movement 
could not make headway in the outlying districts 
against the overwhelming strength of the loyalists. 

Among the contributing causes of the failure of the 
movement should be included the unfavourable con- 
dition of affairs in the United States. The Canadian 
Annexationists were greatly disappointed at not receiv- 
ing a heartier response to their overtures from their 
American cousins. They had expected that their 
movement would be supported by the full force of 
American public opinion, and that they might count 
upon their American friends for financial backing and 
moral support. But discouragement met them on 
every hand. No assistance or encouragement whatever 
was forthcoming from the Government at Washington ; 
and the public at large, except in a few neighbouring 
states, turned out to be indifferent or hostile. To 
make matters worse, the slavery issue was daily becom- 
ing more acute. The Republic was divided against itself, 
and already a war cloud was looming up on the horizon. 

The Canadian people were not blind to these danger- 
ous portents. From the very beginning of their con- 
stitutional history, they had been opposed to the curse 
of slavery, and had driven it out of the country. At the 
prospect of annexation, the Reform press flew to arms 
to defend the free soil of Canada against the threatening 
danger of slavery. The Annexationists found them- 
selves in an embarrassing position. Few of them 
ventured in any way to defend slavery ; they preferred, 
on the contrary, to disregard the issue entirely ; when 
driven to bay, they endeavoured to argue that by a 
political union with the United States, the people of 
Canada would aid in the extinction of slavery through- 
out the Republic. But the Canadian public could not 
be deceived by any such specious claim. They refused 
to have any connection with the accursed thing. The 

The Collapse of the Movement 359: 

bitter struggles in Congress and the angry threats of 
secession amply proved that all was not peace and con- 
tentment in the great Republic, and served to warn the 
colonists of the danger of sacrificing their autonomy 
at such a moment. " It would," said The Montreal 
Gazette, " be a sorry instance of our wisdom to make a 
present of our country to a foreigner, and buy a civil 
war at the same time. We would have less reluctance 
to annex to the disunited states than to the present 
United States. People who may be hanging towards 
annexation had better hang on, than run the great risk 
of doing much worse." 

The enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law outraged . 
the sensibilities of even the most ardent Annexation- 
ists. With few exceptions, they declined to commit 
the province to the maintenance of the slave trade, as 
was demanded by that infamous act. The highly 
sensitive conscience of The Witness could stand it no 
longer. " We have hitherto advocated annexation," it 
declared, " provided certain preparations were made on 
both sides ; but, rather than consent to the annexation 
of Canada to the United States, while this slave-catch- 
ing law remains in force, rather than the free soil of 
Canada should be made a hunting-ground for the slave- 
holder and his infamous agents, rather than the 
fugitive African should be deprived of his last refuge 
on this continent, we would be willing not only to forgo 
all the advantages of annexation, but to see Canada 
ten times poorer and worse governed than she is ; and 
we have no doubt this feeling is shared by Annexation- 
ists whose objects were higher than mere pecuniary 
interests." * The slavery issue hung as a millstone V 
around the necks of the Annexationists, and dragged ^ 
them down to defeat. The moral conscience of the 
people could not be bribed by material considerations 
into consenting to an extension of the territory within 
which the traffic in the bodies and souls of their fellow 
men would be legally recognized. 

* Quoted from The Colonist, October 25, 1850. 

360 The Collapse of the Movement 

The last material factor in discrediting the annexa- 
tion movement was the unexpected hostility of the 
English Government and nation. At the outset of their 
propaganda, the annexationist leaders had realized 
that the province was altogether too loyal at heart to 
think of rebellion. They had sought, accordingly, to 
disarm the opposition of the loyalists by expressions of 
the highest regard for the motherland, and by profess- 
ing their readiness to accept the judgment of the 
British Government upon the policy of separation. 
In their political strategy, they had rashly counted 
upon the neutral attitude of the Whig Ministry, and 
the hearty support of the Radical Party in Parliament. 
But in both of these anticipations, they were sorely 
disappointed. They found themselves exposed to the 
public as false prophets, as blind leaders of the blind. 
From the day of the receipt of Earl Grey's despatch, the 
struggle went steadily against the Annexationists. 
The loyalists quickly rallied to the appeal of the 
Colonial Secretary, and carried the war into the territory 
of the enemy. In the face of his lordship's despatch 
it was no longer possible for the Tory members of the 
party to keep up the pretence of loyalty to Great Britain. 
The Annexationists found their own weapons turned 
against themselves. They had either to drop their 
agitation, or choose the pathway of revolution. To 
many of the party, discretion seemed the better part 
of valour ; and the remainder were not sufficiently 
strong in numbers and influence to persevere for any 
length of time in a hopeless struggle against the com- 
bined forces of the Government and public opinion in 
both England and Canada. The local associations were 
not formally dissolved ; but, here and there throughout 
the province, they quietly disappeared through lack of 
interest and the falling off of membership. So rapid 
was the process of disintegration, that, by the end of the 
year, all semblance of a party organization had vanished. 
The appeal of the Colonial Secretary to the loyalty of 
the Canadian people was splendidly vindicated. 



The struggle for responsible government — Chagrin of the Tories — • 
Economic distress — Annexation movement among commercial 
class — Similarity of movement to that in Canada — Failure of 
the agitation. 

THE course of events in Canada was reproduced, 
to a large extent, in the Maritime Provinces. 
The question of responsible government had 
been bitterly fought out between the Reform 
and Tory parties in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 
The victory of the Reformers in both provinces filled 
the Tories with bitter exasperation against the English 
Government which found vent in loud mutterings of 
discontent, and in some cases in open declarations of 
disloyalty. The Halifax Colonist expressed the opinion 
that the connection with Great Britain was seriously 
endangered by the policy of the Whig Ministry. " The 
best way," it declared, " to recall us to our former 
affection would be to hang Earl Grey, whose vile mis- 
conduct will be the principal cause of the loss of these 

At the same time, the cry for annexation had arisen 
among a section of the mercantile community. The 
repeal of the English preferential duty on lumber had 
inflicted a staggering blow on the principal industry of 
New Brunswick. As the economic life of the province 
was almost entirely dependent upon that industry, the 
outlook of the colonists for a time was exceedingly 
dubious. Many of the traders and lumbermen lost 
faith in the future of the province, and cried out for a 


362 The Movement in the Maritime Provinces 

political union with the United States. In the city 
of St. John and in the Northern counties, an active 
movement in favour of annexation was set on foot. 
The New Brunswicker * and The Miramichi Gleaner 
espoused the new political tenets, primarily on com- 
mercial grounds, as a means of restoring the prosperity 
of the province. A similar agitation broke out in 
Nova Scotia. There was in the Maritime Provinces, 
declared The Nova Scotian, a set of men who traced all 
their political grievances to the fact that they were 
colonists and not American citizens. So long as Eng- 
land was willing to tax herself for the corn growers and 
lumbermen of this country, nothing could exceed their 
loyalty to the Crown ; but, with a change in England's 
fiscal policy, loyalty was at a discount at St. John, as 
well as in Canada.* 

The similarity of the annexation movement in the 
Maritime Provinces to that in Canada was, indeed, most 
striking. The political discontent of the Conservatives 
merged into the commercial distress of the people. 
Out of the fusion of these two elements there emerged 
the same republican theories and annexation tendencies 
as developed in Canada. The Conservative Party by 
the sea took up the demand of the Radicals for a change 
in the status of the Governor, and the adoption of 
elective institutions. But the Reform Government in 
both provinces resisted the clamours of the discon- 
tented, and stood fast by the British connection. 

The satisfactory working of the principle of respon- 
sible government killed the agitation of the Conserva- 
tives. With the settlement of the constitutional issue, 
" the silly fever of annexation " which had prevailed 
for a time " amongst a disappointed clique, quickly 
subsided, for the colonists had no liking for American 
slavery." * The Tory recalcitrants soon realized the 

• The New Brunswicker, February 8, 1850. 

" Quoted from The Toronto Globe, October 4, 1849. 

• The New Brunswick Reporter, quoted from The Toronto Globe, 
September 27, 1849. 

The Movement in the Maritime Provinces 363 

mistake they had made ; they cast down the false idols 
they had set up in a moment of chagrin, and returned 
with renewed zeal to the first principle of the party : 
loyalty to the Crown and the British connection. The 
business interests of the provinces gradually adjusted 
themselves to the new economic conditions. With the 
return of more prosperous times, the commercial com- 
munity dropped its agitation, and turned to the more 
congenial task of making money. The annexation 
movement sprang up quickly under the most favourable 
conditions, a fortuitous combination of economic ad- 
versity and political discontent ; but it as quickly died 
away because of the revival of prosperity and the 
prospect of office under the British flag. 



Interesting colonial questions — The Times — Attitude of the "Whig 
press — Views of the Radical organs — Attitude of the Tory 
press — Imperial ideals of the parties — Subordination of im- 
perial interests to English party politics, 

IN England, the course of Canadian events had 
attracted a larger amount of public interest than 
was usually bestowed upon colonial matters. 
But just at this moment, colonial questions were 
playing a large part in English politics. The Colonial 
Secretary, as we have seen, had taken a deep personal 
interest in the annexation movement, and had inter- 
vened in Canadian affairs in his usual decisive fashion. 
Parliament, on the other hand, was too much immersed 
in the discussion of the fiscal policy of the United 
Kingdom, and the framework of the Australian 
Colonies Bill, to devote much attention to the question 
of annexation. But the unusual interest of the press 
in Canadian affairs offset, to a large extent, the in- 
difference of Parliament. Almost without exception, 
the English journals recognized the seriousness of the 
situation in Canada, though they differed widely in 
their opinions as to the origin and significance of the 
discontent of the colony, and as to the ultimate out- 
come of the annexation movement. Happily, the dis- 
cussions of the press did not display any coercive dis- 
position towards the colonies. Some of the chief party 
papers could not refrain, however, from interjecting 
a certain amount of political animus into their leading 


The Attitude of Great Britain 865 

The Times, the chief organ of the Government, dis- 
cussed the question of separation in a calm and 
reasonable manner, and with a due sense of imperial 
responsibility. It duly acknowledged the importance 
of the manifesto, and the skill and moderation of the 
presentation of the case for annexation. " It is neither 
inspired by vindictiveness nor fraught with violence. 
It is earnest in its tone, but its earnestness partakes 
of the character of deliberateness ; it reasons, even 
though it may reason wrongly, and proceed from in- 
correct premises to erroneous deductions. It is on this 
account that the Montreal address is entitled to a 
patient, we were almost saying a respectful, attention 
at our hands. It breathes no hostility against the 
i British Crown and people ; on the contrary, it em- 
phatically records the kindly feelings of the Canadian 
people to both ; it makes no vehement protestations 
of affection for a republican form of government ; but 
simply rests its preference of republican institutions 
upon local and peculiar conditions ; it advises separa- 
tion from England, as it suggests annexation to the 
United States, from the motives by which communities 
not less than individuals are impelled — motives of 
self-interest and self-advancement." The Times went 
on to declare that, although there was a time when 
such a manifesto would have been considered treason- 
able, England would not now think of going to war 
for " the sterile honour of maintaining a reluctant 
colony in galling subjection." 

But, in a later editorial, it assumed a distinctly un- 
favourable attitude towards the separation of Canada. 
It expressed grave doubt as to whether the address 
correctly expressed the sentiments even of a majority 
of the inhabitants of Montreal. But, however this 
might be, it was convinced that the feeling in that 
city could not be held truly to reflect " the general 
state of Canadian parties and politics." Montreal 
for many years had been distinguished by its turbu- 
lence ; racial animosities, religious differences, and 

866 The Attitude of Great Britain 

party antipathies had stirred up a spirit of unrest 
and discontent among the citizens. Recently the city 
had suffered a severe economic setback ; the colonial 
preference had been withdrawn, and it was proposed 
to remove the seat of Government. It was little won- 
der, under the circumstances, that Montreal was dis- 
affected. The men who were loudest for annexation 
would be most reluctant to realize their own menaces ; 
for, as it sarcastically explained, with two or three 
exceptions, they would be less considerable persons as 
American citizens than they were as British subjects. 
Notwithstanding their roseate pictures of the economic 
advantages of a union with the United States, the 
annexation leaders would find it as impossible for a 
republican, as for a monarchical. Government to force 
prosperity upon the province ; they would sink back 
into the unendurable position of legislators without 
influence, and speculators without capital. Some of 
the Canadian statesmen clearly saw the sorry pre- 
dicament into which annexation would lead the colony, 
and were doing everything in their power to ward off 
the danger. 

It was difficult to see of what elements the Annexa- 
tion Party would be permanently composed. A 
political union with the United States would swamp 
the French population in the mass of Anglo-Saxon 
republicans ; the eastern Canadians had not suffered 
much from the change of fiscal policy, and would not 
be greatly benefited by annexation ; while the ultra- 
loyalists and Orangemen of the Western District, 
although irritated at the action of the English Govern- 
ment, could scarcely agree to accept republican insti- 
tutions. " But, if under the pressure of temporary 
adversity, or from an undue estimate of the benefits 
of republican institutions, the Canadian people delib- 
erately propose to exchange the freest policy that any 
colony ever enjoyed, for the ambiguous honour of 
forming a small part of an unwieldy confederation, 
then let them understand that the conduct of the 

The Attitude of Great Britain 867 

people of England will be directed by motives of pru- ' 
dence and interest alone. If they think that they can 
do without Canada, then, and then only, will they 
give up Canada. But in surrendering Canada, they 
will take care not to surrender one jot of sea or land 
the possession of which effectively concerns the mari- 
time and commercial importance of Great Britain. 
They will not cede Nova Scotia, they will not cede 
Cape Breton ; they will not cede the seaboard and 
those harbours which must ever command the mouth 
of the St. Lawrence and protect the trade of the 
Atlantic. In parting from England Canada will lose 
the name of a dependent province, to be brought more 
nearly in view of the force which might have perpetu- 
ated her dependence ; in losing her hold on Canada 
England will take care to lose only the responsibiUties 
and the expense of her retention. But we apprehend 
that the destined future of Canada, and the disposition 
of her people, make all such anticipations as these 
wholly superfluous." * 

Although The Morning Chronicle lightly dismissed 
the danger of a rebellion in Canada, it expressed the 
fear that " an inveterate and chronic disaffection, 
fostered by perpetual comparisons of the most damag- 
ing sort, between the rapid and prosperous develop- 
ment of a United States territory and the industrial 
and social stagnation of a British colony," might take 
possession of the Canadian people, and gradually 
estrange them from their allegiance. But notwith- 
standing this danger, it refused to surrender willingly 
the North American provinces. The Annexationists, 
it asserted, had worked themselves into the belief 
that England was favourable to the dissolution of the 
empire, because she had made no fuss or outcry against 
the Montreal manifesto. But, in truth, the English 
public had not as yet given serious thought to the 
question. " The loss of Canada would, under any 
circumstances, be to the last degree distasteful to 

^ The Times, November 2, 1849. 

868 The Attitude of Great Britain 

Great Britain ; and, under no circumstances, would 
this country voluntarily hand over to a rival any single 
port, harbour, city, or fortified place, which she deems 
useful, either for the protection of her commerce in 
peace, or for the assertion of her rights in war." ' 

The Glasgow Daily News emphatically declared that 
any ministerial proposal to consent to the annexation 
of Canada to the United States would seal the fate 
of the Government making it.* The London Globe, 
reputed to be the private property of Lord Palmerston, 
combated the views of the Annexationists on economic 
grounds ; while The Economist, the leading organ of 
the financial world, advocated the adoption of a 
reciprocity agreement with the United States, as 
likely to prove more advantageous to Canada than 

There was a decided inclination on the part of some 
of the ministerial organs to treat the annexation move- 
ment as a purely partisan manoeuvre to secure the 
restoration of protective duties in England. "It is 
not," said The North British Mail, " the tyranny of 
the Colonial Office, the partisanship of Lord Elgin, 
the predominance of the French race, the inconveni- 
ences of monarchy, or the superior advantages of 
republicanism which form the impelling force of the 
Canadian Annexationists, but the loss of protection 
previously afforded to Canadian products. The loyalty 
of these gentlemen begins and ends with a discriminat- 
ing duty in favour of their wheat and butter. Give 
the merchants of Montreal a monopoly of the British 
markets, and they are red-hot Britons ; place them on 
a fair equality with the merchants of the world, and 
they become true-blue Americans. The abolition is 
the one and only grievance of which they complain ; 
and in order to recline once more under its darling 
shade, they throw off their allegiance like an old worn- 
out coat, renounce all their past principles, scrape up 

* The Morning Chronicle, January 5, 1850. 
» The Glasgow Daily News, November 2, 1849. 

The Attitude of Great Britain 369 

acquaintanceships with revolutionists and Yankees, and 
proceed, in this motley companionship, to rend asunder 
the very empire to which they vowed a thousand 
times their indissoluble attachment." It ridiculed the 
pretension — " the truly Jesuitic proviso " — that an- 
nexation would be brought about only with the consent 
of Great Britain. " By this salvo, the Annexationists 
expect to secure the signatures of the loyal and peaceful 
part of the population, till they have committed them 
so far to their treasonable purposes that they cannot 
turn back." 

Some of the journals of the Manchester School were 
much more sympathetic towards the Canadian Annexa- . 
tionists. The London Examiner spoke of the ultimate ' 
separation of the colonies in a tone of quiet assurance. 
" That the colonies of any nation will continue colonies 
for ever is a notion that revolts common sense, and 
could be seriously entertained by none but idiots. 
The very notion of the colonial condition precludes 
the idea of permanency. The latent instinct of 
national pride never fails to develop itself, when a 
community possesses the capacity and the elements 
of individual existence." Annexation, it prophesied, 
might " come at last " ; but, in the meantime, no 
one of the parties interested in the question (England, 
United States, and Canada) was ripe for it. The pride 
and prejudice of the English nation were unquestionably 
against it.* The Examiner much preferred a union of 
the British-American colonies and their erection into 
a sovereign state. " Social necessities and the healthy 
progress of mankind require two independent states in 
North America." * Should annexation, however, be the 
choice of the Canadian people, it must be brought 
about peaceably, by means of friendly negociations 
between the three countries. England, it concluded, 
would undoubtedly be the greatest gainer by annexa- 

^ This view was strongly emphasized by the London correspond- 
ent of Tke New York Tribune. 
2 Quoted from The Colonist, November 2, 1849. 


370 The Attitude of Great Britain 

tion, since she would be relieved of the heavy respon- 
sibility of administering a distant territory. 

The London Morning Advertiser joyfully announced 
that the Cabinet had concluded that the maintenance 
of British authority in Canada was unprofitable and 
burdensome to the mother country. " The result of 
a careful examination of the Canadian connection, in 
all its aspects, is that so far from England being a 
sufferer from the renunciation of their allegiance to 
the British Crown on the part of the Canadians, she 
would be an actual gainer. It is a well-ascertained 
fact that the expenses of the connection have more 
than counterbalanced its advantages. The mainten- 
ance of that part of our colonial possessions subjects 
us to a yearly expenditure of more than £800,000 in 
hard cash. Will any one tell us that the Canadas 
confer on us benefits at all equivalent to this ? It 
may, indeed, be debated whether our exports to the 
Canadas would not be as great as they have been at 
any former period. At any rate, we speak advisedly 
when we say that this country will be no loser by the 
secession of the Canadas. That is certainly the con- 
clusion to which the ministers have arrived, after the 
most able and careful deliberation." 

The Liverpool Mercury had a very poor opinion of 
the loyalty of the Canadian Tories. The clamour 
for annexation, it was convinced, was a mere party 
manoeuvre and not a national movement. Nevertheless, 
it confessed its inability to share the moral indigna- 
tion with which some of its contemporaries regarded 
the speculations of the United States press on the pro- 
bable incorporation of Canada with the American 
Union. So far as England was concerned, it con- 
cluded, it would be perfectly " fair and legitimate for 
Canada to annex herself to the United States according 
to her own free will and pleasure." 

Some of the Tory protectionist papers were inclined 
to make party capital out of the discontent of the 
colonies — the existence of which was charged to the 

2^he Attitude of Great Britain 371 

fiscal policy of the Government. " Now," said The 
London Morning Post, " that the question is thus 
broadly put to Her Majesty's ministers, and to the 
public of this United Kingdom, whether free trade 
is to be abandoned, or Canada is to be abandoned, 
there cannot be other than one choice, to revive pro- 
tection ; and it must be revived at this coming session. 
Canadians of all parties, take from us these words of 
comfort : You have despaired too soon. You shall 
have back protection. Your position as British sub- 
jects shall not go for nothing in British markets. Your 
labour and capital shall be secured their due return, 
and the flow of wealth from England in payment for 
your productions shall not be stopped or transferred 
to your neighbour," * The London Morning Herald 
severely arraigned the policy of The Times in com- 
placently accepting the ultimate separation of the 
colonies as the natural destiny of the empire. " If," 
it declared, " Canada should depart, she will go, leaving 
the brand of shame upon the cheek of Great Britain ; 
she asked for justice in her commercial dealings, and 
we denied it ; she prayed for equal rights on Canadian 
ground for every subject of the Crown, and we declared 
in the face of the world that there are rights which the 
rebel in arms may claim, but in which the defender of 
the Throne must not hope to participate." 

The attitude of the several parties towards the 
annexation movement was in fact truly expressive of 
their general political conceptions of colonial politics 
and imperial relationships. Both the Whig and Tory 
press were inclined to view Canadian affairs from the 
standpoint of the primary interests of the motherland. 
Neither the Government nor the Opposition could be 
justly charged with a neglect of imperial responsibili- 
ties, but they were equally prone to identify the in- 
terests of the colonies with their own political and com- 
mercial policies. Generally speaking, the Whigs were 
of the opinion that the interests of the empire would 

1 The London Morning Post, November i, 1849. 

872 The Attitude of Great Britain 

be best promoted by devolving upon the colonies the 
responsibility of their own administration ; each one 
of the self-governing units of the empire, it was be- 
lieved, should be left free to frame its policy in con- 
formity with its own peculiar needs. They claimed for 
England the same rights in this respect as they granted 
to the colonies. The latter, they maintained, were not 
entitled to demand sacrifices from the motherland at 
j the expense of her own population. The Whig min- 
I isters were ready to lend an attentive ear to the prayers 
f) I of the colonies, they even sympathized with them in 
' their distress, but they refused to abandon a fiscal 
policy which they were firmly convinced would prove 
/ in the long run as advantageous to the colonists as to 
' the citizens of Great Britain, For this reason, they 
declined to be frightened or stampeded by the cry of 
annexation, but preferred to leave the determination 
of the future of the North American Provinces to time 
and the good judgment of the Canadian people. 

The Tories, on the contrary, believed that the unity 
and permanence of the empire could only be assured 
by binding the colonies to the motherland by the closest 
^yr' ties of constitutional obligation and material interest. 

They placed little reliance upon purely sentimental 
^ consideration or the spiritual factors of society as a 
basis of imperial relationship ; they preferred to place 
their trust in an economic organization of the empire 
on the basis of mutual interest and reciprocal advan- 
tage. Upon this solid foundation, it was believed, 
a strong political organization could be erected. 
Throughout the Canadian crisis, the Tory Party stood 
forth as the special champion of colonial and imperial 
interests. But it must be admitted that when the 
interests of the colonies conflicted with the interests 
of the motherland, as in the case of the repeal of 
the Navigation Acts, the Tories were the smallest of 
" Little Englanders." True, they supported the claims 
of the Canadian protectionists and malcontents for a 
colonial preference, but they did so in the hope of 

The Attitude of Great Britain 373 

securing the restoration of protective duties in England, 
rather than from any high imperial motives. Imperial- 
ism was the cloak under which the principles of pro- 
tection was masquerading ; the cloak was quickly 
discarded when the Canadian Parliament demanded 
the right of free navigation, which was incompatible 
with the monopoly of English shippers. 

The Radicals, as was to be expected, were much more 
favourable to the development of a spirit of colonial 
nationalism, than either of the historic parties. But, 
in favouring the independence of the colonies, the 
Manchester Schoolmen were as deeply concerned in 
promoting the welfare of the colonies and the interests 
of the empire at large, as the most liberal Whig or the 
staunchest Tory imperialist. In some instances, as we 
have seen, they proved themselves the truest imperi- 
alists, by vindicating the rights of the colonies against 
the selfish pretensions of their fellow countrymen. 

But, it must be confessed, Whigs, Tories, and Radicals 
alike subordinated the interests of the colonies to their 
own distinctive domestic policies. Whatever their 
political professions, they were all prone to look at 
colonial questions from an English, rather than from 
an imperial point of view. It was indeed but natural 
that they should do so. 



American expansion — Declaration of General Scott in favour of 
annexation — Annexation sentiment in Vermont — Resolution 
of the Legislature — Resolutions of New York Assembly — 
Attitude of Congress — Hostility of Democratic Party to an- 
nexation — Influence of the slavery issue — Views of the Whig 
and Free Soil Democratic press — Opinion of the West — 
Principle of non-intervention — Absorption in domestic ques- 

IN the United States, the course of Canadian events 
had aroused a larger amount of interest than was 
usually devoted to external affairs. The country 
was passing through a period of rapid territorial 
expansion, Texas, Oregon, California, and a large slice 
of Mexico had been incorporated in the Union within 
a short space of time, yet the desire for further ag- 
grandizement was not yet satisfied. Visions of the 
Stars and Stripes flying over the whole of the North 
American continent and the Isles of the Caribbean Sea 
were floating through the intoxicated minds of many 
of the people. In the hope of diverting attention from 
the approaching domestic crisis, some of the politicians 
at Washington were not averse to promoting a vigorous 
foreign policy. But the adoption of such a policy was 
seriously complicated by the growing antagonism of 
the Northern and Southern States over the question of 
slavery. The policy of annexation became inextric- 
ably bound up with the fundamental issue of free or 
slave territory. The Canadian annexation movement 
appeared, therefore, at a critical moment. The two 
great political parties in the Republic were almost 


The Attitude of the United States 375 

equally balanced in strength. Economic and political 
considerations combined to foster throughout the 
Northern States a friendly feeling towards the Mont- 
real Annexationists. The New York and New Eng- 
land merchants were especially interested in the develop- 
ment of Canadian trade. The abolitionists and many 
of the supporters of Van Buren and Seward were 
naturally favourable to the acquisition of more free 
states. But the Southern people were strongly opposed 
to any disturbance of the balance of power within the 
Union by the annexation of Canada. 

For the moment, it appeared as if the Whig Party 
might take up the question of a northern extension 
of territory as a campaign issue. General Winfield 
Scott, a leading candidate of the party for the Presi- 
dency, came out with an open letter in favour of the 
annexation of the British-American Provinces. The 
policy of the English Government would, he believed, 
increase the discontent in Canada, and bring about a 
separation in a few years' time. The interests of both 
Canada and the United States would be promoted by 
annexation, and in all probability the people of Canada 
would prefer a union with the States to national inde- 
pendence. Annexation would be especially beneficial 
in doing away with border customs duties. Fully two- 
thirds of the American nation would rejoice in the con- 
summation of such a union, and the remaining third 
would soon see the great benefits of it. But, he con- 
cluded, no underhand measures should be taken 
against Great Britain, since the retention of her good- 
will was second only in importance to that of winning 
the favour of the colonists themselves.^ The views of 
General Scott appeared to find a certain amount of 
support in Washington. A rumour was abroad that, 

* This letter first appeared in The Saratoga Whig. The Examiner, 
July i8, 1849. L'Avenir, July 24, 1849, warmly welcomed the letter 
of General Scott. The General, it asserted, was especially friendly 
towards Canadians, and in 1837 had supported the proposed inter- 
vention of the United States Government on behalf of the Canadian 

376 The Attitude of the United States 

for some months past, the Cabinet of President Taylor 
had been considering the advisability of taking up the 
question of annexation of Canada and Cuba as a popu- 
lar campaign issue for the coming election. It was 
believed in some quarters that the early declaration 
of General Scott was designed to anticipate any such 
action on the part of the President. 

Some of the Northern Democrat papers were afraid 
that the Whig Party might gain credit for the policy of 
annexation. That policy, it was claimed, was the 
distinctive property of the Democrats. " Both Cuba 
and the British colonies," said The Washington Union, 
" at the proper time and in the proper manner will 
ultimately be annexed to the American Union. But 
these great measures will be effected by the Democratic 
Party and a Democratic administration, and not by 
the Whigs. It will, however, be done at the proper 
time, when it can be accomplished with honour and 
without violating either the rights of Great Britain or 
Spain. When Canada and her sister colonies shall have 
secured their independence, and when Cuba shall have 
done the same, then will it be time enough for us to 
seriously discuss and finally decide on these questions." 
Although many of the Northern Democrats were 
favourable to the annexation of Canada, the implacable 
hostility of the Southern Democrats, who controlled 
the policy of the party, effectually prevented any steps 
being taken in that direction. 

Along the northern boundary, especially in Vermont, 
there was a general feeling of sympathy with the 
annexation movement. For some time past, an effort 
had been made to develop a closer commercial con- 
nection between the St. Lawrence and Lake George. 
The merchants of Montreal had met in conference with 
their confreres of Burlington for the promotion of 
improved means of communication. An imaginary 
boundary line divided the allegiance, but did not 
sunder the social and commercial relationships of the 
citizens of Vermont and their neighbours in the Eastern 

The Attitude of the United States 377 

Townships . The appearance of the Montreal manifesto / 
furnished a sufficient occasion for intervening in 
Canadian affairs. 

At the Democratic State Convention at Montpelier, 
a grandiloquent resolution was adopted : " That, in 
the true spirit of democracy, deeply sympathizing with 
the downtrodden, oppressed, and over-restricted of 
every clime and country, we hail with joy the rising 
spirit of liberty in the provinces of Canada, as expressed 
recently in the published opinions of its citizens upon 
the subject of annexation ; that we appreciate the 
efforts and emulate the movements of the friends of 
republicanism in Canada, and that we cordially extend 
to them the hand of friendship, fellowship, and brotherly 
love ; that we will use all peaceable means in our power 
to further their object in becoming members of this our 
glorious union of free, independent, and sovereign 
states. ' ' * The Whig State Convention likewise adopted 
a resolution of somewhat similar import in favour of 
annexation.* No reference was made to the question 
at the convention of the Free Democratic Party, an 
omission, however, which, according to The Burlington 
Courier, was purely accidental. 

The leading organs of all three parties were enthu- 
siastically in favour of annexation. The Brattlehorough 
Whig announced that the Whig Party proposed to try 
its hand at annexation, but was going to make the 
attempt by peaceful means, without a thought of 
resorting to war. The Burlington Sentinel, the most 
influential Democratic paper of the state, declared : 
" Woe be to that party which in Vermont shall in 
any manner oppose the accomplishment of this popular 
and desirable event. ... To those living along the 
lines, it is the dictate of patriotism, as well as of in- 
terest, to hasten the day of annexation by every means 
in their power. If it be unnecessary, or impolitic, to 
bring physical means to bear, we have moral means 

^ The Burlington Daily Sentinel, October 22, 1849. 
2 Ibid., October 31, 1849. 

378 The Attitude of the United States 

against the use of which there is no law and no rules of 
propriety. By expressions of sympathy in our con- 
ventions, legislatures, and presses, by private and 
public means, we may encourage those enlisted in the 
cause beyond the lines, and lend an important aid in 
securing the final success of the magnificent enterprise, 
which promises so splendid an acquisition to our com- 
mercial wealth and national glory." * It was even 
ready to resort to force, if the liberation of the colonies 
from the Crown could not be secured by any other 
means " after a fair trial." * The Burlington Courier, 
the principal organ of the Free Democrats, urged upon 
the members of the party in the Legislature to take an 
early occasion to show " that the free democracy of 
Vermont will be among the first to welcome to the 
blessings of the Union a neighbouring nation, whose 
accession, instead of adding to the slavery side of the 
balance, will permanently strengthen the interests of 

At the meeting of the Legislature shortly after, a 
resolution was introduced in the Senate by Mr. Weston 
sympathizing with the people of Canada in their desire 
for freedom, and favouring the annexation of the 
province to the United States. An amendment was 
moved by Mr. Thomas, to instruct the Senators and 
Representatives of the State in Congress to use a 
proper means to bring about peaceful annexation. Mr. 
Thomas subsequently withdrew his amendment, upon 
the motion of Mr. Weston to amend his resolution by 
the omission of all invidious references to the state of 
Canada. The resolutions as amended were unani- 
mously adopted by the Senate, with the concurrence 
of the House.* 

Similar action was taken by the Legislative Assembly 
of New York early in 1850. A series of resolutions was 

* The Burlington Daily Sentinel, October 31, 1849. 
' Ibid., November 6, 1849. 

* The text of these resolutions will be found in the second Montreal 
manifesto, pp. 170, 171. 

The Attitude of the United States 379 

introduced by Mr. Wheeler, expressing the pleasure of 
the Legislature at the evident desire of the people of 
Canada to join the Union, and instructing the con- 
gressmen of the state to co-operate in any measures of 
the federal Government to promote the annexation 
of the British provinces. The resolutions were opposed 
by Mr. Munroe, but they were subsequently adopted 
by the decisive vote of 76 to 28.* The preamble and 
the first of the resolutions were practically identical 
in phraseology with the resolutions of the Vermont 
Legislature. The last two resolutions ran as follows : 

" Resolved (if the Senate concur) that the an- 
nexation of Canada and other provinces of Great 
Britain in North America, effected by negotiation 
with the British Government, and with the 
voluntary consent of the people of the said pro- 
vinces, upon equitable and honourable terms, is 
an object of incalculable importance to the people 
of the United States. It would reunite into one 
family, and make citizens of a brave, industrious, 
and intelligent people who are now our brethren 
in interest and language. It would save this 
country the expense of maintaining a line of 
customs houses and fortifications 3,500 miles in 
extent, and give to the whole continent the blessing 
of free and unmolested trade. It would secure the 
preponderance of free institutions in this Union, 
and it would unite under one republican Govern- 
ment all the people and all the territory between 
the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico 
and the Arctic Ocean. 

" Resolved (if the Senate concur) that our 
Senators and Representatives in Congress be re- 
quested to co-operate in any measures which the 
general administration may adopt to promote the 
peaceful annexation of the British North American 
Provinces to this country." 

* New York, Journals of the House of Assembly, 1850, pp. 206-7. 

380 The Attitude of the United States 

The conduct of the Government at Washington 
was strictly proper. No neutral power in time of war 
could have observed a more scrupulous impartiality. 
Throughout the course of the annexation movement 
President Taylor carefully refrained from even an ap- 
pearance of desiring to meddle in Canadian affairs. 
Neither by word nor action did he lend the slightest 
encouragement to the Canadian Annexationists. It 
would have been easy for him greatly to embarrass the 
Canadian Government in its efforts to relieve the 
distress of the province. The question of reciprocal 
trade was the crux of the Canadian situation, yet he 
endeavoured to assist the Canadian authorities in secur- 
ing the passage of a Reciprocity Bill through Congress. 
The attitude of Congress was equally impartial, even 
though not as friendly to Canada. Undoubtedly some 
of the Northern Congressmen would have welcomed 
any overtures from Canada for annexation, but the 
hostility of the Southern members effectually prevented 

\ any expression of opinion, or overt action, looking to 

\ the addition of more free territory. The temptation 
to intervene in Canadian affairs was undoubtedly 
great, but the danger of Southern secession was suffi- 
ciently imminent to absorb the attention and energies 

\ i of the Government and Congress at home. 

V The views of the press were largely coloured by 
political and sectional considerations. Slavery was the 
all-absorbing issue which entered into the determination 
of every question, whether of foreign or domestic 
politics. The majority of the Southern papers were 
favourable to the acquisition of Cuba as a slave state, 
but strongly opposed to the incorporation of any more 
free states in the Union ; the Democrat journals of the 
North were divided upon the question. The pro-slavery 
organs of the party masked their hostility to annexa- 
tion under cover of the unfitness of the Canadian people 
to share in the blessings of republican institutions. 
" But," said The Oswego Commercial Times, " before 
so multiplying the number of states of our Union, as is 

The Attitude of the United States 881 

proposed, consisting in so large a proportion of people 
who are strangers to our institutions, and to the quali- 
fications which enable our citizens to support them, it 
will be well to inquire what proportion of these states 
can be regarded as competent to carry on the govern- 
ment of the United States on the principles which have 
preserved this Union." 

In some cases, the language of the editorials was most 
offensive to the self-respect of the Canadian people, 
who were represented as hopelessly committed to the 
accursed " bane of aristocracy," as sunk in ignorance 
and stupidity, and as harbouring dark designs against 
the democracy of the United States. " For ourselves," 
said The New York Courier and Inquirer, " we are not 
anxious to see any more annexations either at North 
or South. The Republic is already large enough, and 
Canada has too long been attached to monarchical 
forms, to relish plain republicanism." The Steuhen- 
ville Herald warned its readers that the Canadian 
Tories had spent their lives in vilifying republicanism, 
and that their sudden conversion, owing to the loss of 
their aristocratic privileges, was accompanied by many 
suspicious circumstances. " They should now be 
watched, lest they are asking to be joined to us in 
order that they may essay to live as they have lived 

On the other hand, many of the Whig, and a few of 
the Free Soil Democratic papers, were favourably in- 
clined towards annexation, partly on political and 
partly on social and economic grounds. Some of these 
journals were inclined to look upon the British- Ameri- 
can provinces in a patronizing way, to commiserate the 
colonists on their unhappy lot as British subjects, and 
glowingly to portray the blessings of freedom which 
were in store for them on their incorporation in the 
American Union. By annexation, it was predicted, the 
colonists would secure the benefits " resulting from the 
wholesome laws of the Republic, and partake of the 
comforts which freedom offered to all." They would 

382 The Attitude of the United States 

share in the superior economic facilities, and the rising 
prosperity of the American nation. Peace and har- 
mony would reign in place of racial discord and social 
anarchy, and " the influence of republican institutions 
would soon make them a contented and prosperous 
people." Among the Free Soil papers, there was a 
decided tendency to favour the annexation of the 
British-American provinces, in order to strengthen the 
anti-slavery forces in the Union. 

Several of the leading Western papers came out 
enthusiastically for annexation. The prospect of the 
free navigation of the St. Lawrence especially appealed 
to the commercial interests of the West. The people 
of the West had a glorious vision of the great imperial 
possibilities of such a Union. " Let Canada be an- 
nexed," declared one of the Chicago papers,^ " not be- 
cause our country is not large enough for Yankee 
enterprise and skill, but because her people, our 
brethren, wish it, because nature has so designed it by 
the formation of the two countries, because it aids and 
assists a neighbouring people in gaining their proper 
level, and because it unites two great portions of 
America which never should be severed, and prevents 
discord and war upon our northern boundary." 

A few of the metropolitan journals of the East were 
equally zealous for Annexation. The Brooklyn Star 
expressed the opinion that the Government should 
stand ready to assist Canada in her efforts to secure 
separation, by opening up timely negociations with 
the motherland ; while The Philadelphia Ledger coolly 
proceeded to determine the conditions of union and 
arrange the representation which the colonies should 
enjoy in Congress. But the more conservative journals 
of the North preferred to await the course of events, 
rather than to push forward any schemes of territorial 
aggrandizement. They did not wish to involve the 
nation in either domestic or international complications. 
The annexation of the North American provinces, it 

' Tht Dollar Newspap*r. 

The Attitude of the United States 383 

was realized, might drive the Southern states into i 
secession, and occasion an unfortunate embroglio in ' 
England. " For our part," said The Buffalo Com- 
mercial Advertiser, "we do not desire to annex the 
Canadian provinces at the expense of the indignation 
of the Southern states. We trust that the contest 
between the North and South may first be terminated, 
so that annexation may take place with the consent 
of all Americans." But in any case, the question of 
annexation was one which the Canadians must first 
settle for themselves, and then arrange with England, 
before the United States should think of intervening. 
" It is very certain," to quote The New York Herald, 
" that the United States will never solicit the Cana- 
dians to annex themselves to this Republic, under any 
circumstances whatever. But while we assert this, we 
are willing, on the other hand, to say that, if the 
Canadians will at some future time procure the consent 
of Great Britain to be annexed to the United States, 
we will, when that consent shall have been obtained, 
and on their solicitation and earnest request, take the 
question into consideration ; and, if we can adjust 
some preliminary arrangements concerning our domes- 
tic relations, satisfactorily to the varied interests of 
this country, we will allow them to come in and partake 
of the great political blessings which we in the United 
States enjoy. The first thing for the people of Canada 
to do, however, is to obtain England's consent to 
dispose of themselves as they think proper." 

But notwithstanding the sympathy of many of the 
American people with the annexation movement in 
Canada, no political party, or section of the Union, 
showed the slightest desire to interfere in the domestic 
concerns of the Canadian provinces. Even those 
Legislatures which rashly ventured to proffer welcome 
to the Canadian people in advance were careful to 
qualify their action by protestations against any in- 
tended violation of the imperial rights of Great Britain. 
The New York Herald distinctly warned the Canadian 

384 The Attitude of the United States 

Annexationists that, if they resorted to force in order 
to sever the imperial tie, they need not expect to 
receive any material assistance from the United States, 
as they did in the revolt of 1837. There was, however, 
a general conviction throughout the Northern states 
that, in the course of Providence, Canada would in- 
evitably become a part of the great Republic, and that 
the United States could well afford to await the inexor- 
able decrees of time and fate. " The true policy of 
the Government," said The Toledo Blade, " is that of 
passiveness. It behoves us to keep a watch upon 
ourselves in this regard, while tempted so strongly 
by our Northern neighbours to depart from it. There 
is no cause for our becoming anxious or excited upon 
the subject — when the fruit is fully ripe it will fall 
into our lap without any exertion on our part." 

The question of annexation never became a vital 
political issue in the United States. The American 
public were too deeply concerned with domestic matters 
to give due consideration to the agitation of their 
Northern neighbours. No political party was ready 
to take up a question of such doubtful political ex- 
pediency. The South was overwhelmingly hostile to 
annexation ; the North, for the most part, was luke- 
warm and indifferent, and at best took but an academic 
interest in the subject. With the cessation of the 
annexation campaign in Canada, the interest of the 
American public in the political relations of the two 
countries soon died out. The nation had more im- 
portant matters to discuss and determine at home. 



An Address from the Canadians of New York and 
THE Surrounding Districts to their Compatriots 
in Canada* 

THE Canadians resident in New York and the sur- 
rounding district grasp the first opportunity which 
presents itself for dehberating upon their common 
interests, to send from the other side of the frontier 
an expression of the sympathies awakened among them by 
the Annexation Manifesto pubhshed in Montreal in the 
course of the last month. 

The entire press of Europe and America has been pleased 
to recognize the cleverness and tact which have been shown 
in the preparation of this document : this chorus of praise 
frees us from the necessity of uttering a panegyric which 
would not add one iota to the incontrovertible force of the 
arguments developed in the Manifesto, nor one more feature 
to the distressing picture of calamities which each line there 

Compatriots of Lower Canada ! In attempting to scatter 
to-day the prejudices which a contrary propaganda is en- 
deavouring to sow against the institutions and resources of 
the American Union, we believe we are paying a debt of 
gratitude towards the country which welcomes us with so 
much kindness, and which treats us on an equahty with its 
own children. 

Daily witnesses of an incomparable commercial activity 
and interested spectators of an unparalleled pohtical or- 
ganization, we flatter ourselves that our estimates formed 
on the spot, in the vastest centre of American civilization, 

^ Translated from L'Avenir of January ii, 1850. See p. 303. 
25 383 

886 Appendix 

will have the effect of confirming, as far as the United States 
are concerned, the hopes roused by the Manifesto, and of 
justifying the conclusions to which the ills of the present 
and the forebodings of the future have irresistibly led us. 

We are going to state concisely the benefits, practical 
and of other kinds, which would arise, in our opinion, from 
the proposed union between the two nations. 

The system of responsible government, in whose com- 
phcations the Canadas are strugghng, was fashioned after 
the pattern of the government of the mother country. 
Wretched copy ! Awkward cop3dsts ! They wished to 
transfer to a distance of a thousand leagues, to the shores 
of America, the accumulated work of several centuries of 
aristocratic privilege. Hence this S5^tem has thwarted the 
plans of those who forced it upon us, and has become more 
indefinite than ever because of the reforms attempted in 
order to restore to it the vitaUty which it constantly loses. 

Let us read the Act of 1840 which unites the two Canadas : 
let us weigh the evils which that constitution has prevented 
or hghtened, and the advantages bom under its auspices : 
we shall easily convince ourselves that the only anchor of 
safety which remains to our country is the annexation in 
view, which will bring with it the abundance of advantages 
and the briUiancy of the splendours which the star-spangled 
banner encloses within its folds. 

Has not the Union Act created a civil list disproportionate 
to the revenue of the country ? 

Provided for the costly maintenance of an army of 
ofificials ? 

Made the right to vote and eligibihty for office dependent 
upon certain property quahfications which render the 
dearest of their prerogatives inaccessible to the mass of 
the people ? 

Set up the Imperial Government as an absolute master 
who rules our affairs according to his pleasure, and who, 
by virtue of a right which he had not claimed for himself 
in his former possessions in North America, appoints our 
Governors, who are torn between the responsibility which 
they owe to the Empire and that which the Provincial 
Cabinet exacts from them ? 

Has it not, in the midst of these conflicts, stifled all the 
reforming impulses of the Provincial Administration, which 
leads a hand-to-mouth, enfeebled existence ? 

Appendix 887 

Has it not imposed a Legislative Council, whose influence, 
if it has any, is dependent upon changes in the Ministry ? 

Compare now the two systems and judge. 

In the United States the governmental machine works 
so simply and so regularly that a child can count its 

The sea of universal suffrage bears upon its waves all 
candidates for popular election. 

Representation is based upon the only true and just 
register of pubUc opinion, on population. 

The individual states, supreme within their respective 
boundaries, delegate to the Federal Congress their appor- 
tioned share of power and influence. 

The Senate, renewed at fixed intervals, enjoys certain 
executive powers which revive its authority, and heighten 
its value. 

All the powers, the executive power, the legislative 
power, the judicial power, from the President to the police 
agent, from the member of Congress to the alderman, from 
the President of the Supreme Court to the judge of the 
Court of Summons, thanks to this perpetual elective voting, 
rise from the people, and descend to them again. 

All powers which the ballot box confers are of short 
duration, in order to renew by this democratic baptism 
the ardour which might relax, in order especially to snatch 
from the Governments the time, if they had the desire, to 
allow themselves to become corrupted, or to become cor- 

The American citizen, at the dictate of his conscience, 
goes to his vote peaceably, the secrecy of the ballot having 
been secured for every nationality, without fearing gold 
intrigues and ministerial vengeance, or the collective wrath 
of parties animated by feelings towards one another of 
inveterate hatred. 

Thence contentment for everybody ; thence stability 
within ; thence security without. 

If we pass from poUtical organization to the purely 
material considerations which relate to commerce, to in- 
dustry, in short to all that composes national prosperity, 
we find the difference still more marked, doubtless because 
it is more apparent and more palpable. 

In Canada the interests of the Government and of the 
citizens experience a Uke suffering : the St. Lawrence is 

388 Appendicc 

deserted : our canals of imperial magnificence, far from 
bending under the weight of vessels, are waiting for the 
arms of free navigation to reopen : our watercourses and 
our falls flow in their picturesque uselessness : we have 
barely a few miles of railway : one simple telegraphic 
system suffices for the faintly electric activity of our 
business : we receive from unhappy Ireland those immi- 
grants who are most destitute of the means necessary for 
ultimate success. 

That, in brief, is the progress which we have made in a 
half-century under the government of the colonial regime. 

Well, the United States during the same period have 
advanced like a giant from one end of the continent to the 
other. The sun heats the most varied chmates, and vivifies 
all varieties of products. A stream of enterprising immi- 
grants has turned towards the new states. Finance, terri- 
fied by the last trembling of European thrones, hastens to 
find here more solid ground upon which to estabhsh her 
operations. Interior lines of communication by water are 
crowded. Telegraph lines have been multiplied in all 
directions. Railroads cover the country with their veins 
of steel. We shall soon be able, thanks to the discovery 
of Morse, to link together San Francisco and New York, 
while at the same time an immense railroad will put the 
two oceans side by side. 

The American, while living at home, can feed himself, 
dress himself, buy and sell, protected from foreign dangers, 
while, because of poverty, the young Canadian abandons 
his native land, only too uncertain whether, on his return 
from exile, he will be able to lay his mortal remains beside 
the sacred bones of his ancestors. And what are we, in 
reality, if not poor exiles, whom our native land sends 
sorrowfully away, and commends to the mercy of God ? 

With these historical and statistical contrasts before us, 
we ask you : Has a poor country, just managing to exist 
under colonial government, something to lose, or some- 
thing to gain by the close union which we propose for it 
with a country rich, contented, and free ? 

The considerations that we have thus far urged are the 
vital elements in the life of nations, but they are not the 

When the drawbridge of the frontiers shall have been 
lowered to admit American goods and American ideas, we 

Appendix 889 

shall shake off two centuries of servitude^ to enter, thanks 
to annexation, into the great family of nations : we shall 
reappear in the firmament of universal liberty, where the 
prolonged domination of France and England have eclipsed 

Let us, therefore, without abjuring anything that patriot- 
ism holds dear, or our most sacred convictions, enlarge our 
native land to the proportions of the whole continent : let 
us once more attach ourselves to the hfe of the world by 
this glorious bond : let us restore a native land to exiles 
who will be proud of such a kind of naturalization ; and we 
shall see the American eagle, whose wings already dip 
into the two oceans, cover the continent to the pole, and 
carry to the highest sky the charter of an emancipated 
North America, 

Inhabitants of Lower Canada (we address you in prefer- 
ence, because we know you better), believe in those of your 
brothers who in the midst of their sorrows and their joys 
do not lose sight of you for a moment : the great qualities 
which have raised to the front rank of nations this people 
which has grown great so quickly beside you, have been 
misrepresented, in order to keep you in terror of them. 

No ; you have nothing to fear for your religion, pro- 
tected, as it will be, by our freedom of worship, which is 
inscribed on the frontispiece of our Constitution, and is 
engraven even more deeply upon the consciences of all 
inteUigent people. 

No ; there is no danger for your language, safeguarded 
by the omnipotence of universal suffrage, and, in case of 
any attempt at suppression, calUng forth the sympathy 
and traditional respect which every descendant of Wash- 
ington entertains for those who stammer the language of 
Rochambeau and Lafayette. 

You will draw from this alliance, we promise you, that 
spirit of order and wisdom which made a state rise from 
the golden sands of CaUfornia, where other people were 
able only to establish mines. 

We shall put you in national communion with those of 
your brothers who conquer, with the aid of abundant rail- 
roads, the prairies of the far west. Will you believe those 
pioneers, living and unimpeachable monuments to the 
gradual impoverishment of the country ? 

Annexationists of both Lower and Upper Canada, we 

390 Appendix 

say to you : Courage, courage, and again courage ; great 
causes triumph only on this condition. Persecution, 
whether it comes from the Government or its agents, is 
the first symptom of that sure success which must crown 
social revolutions. 

Long live annexation ! 
Long live America, one in its national grandeur, indivisible 
in its republican faith ! 


Address to the People of Canada, 
An — see Annexation Mani- 

Ami de la Religion, L', opposes 
annexation, 73, 132 ; hostile 
to Quebec manifesto, 183 ; on 
the Quebec election, 190 

Annexation manifesto. The Mon- 
treal, preparation of, 104 ; 
text of, 106; signers of, 114; 
condemned in Upper Canada, 
129 ; endorsed in Eastern 
Townships, 1 54 ; second mani- 
festo, 164 ; third manifesto, 

Annexation manifestos issued : 
at Quebec, 182 ; by French- 
Canadians of New York, 303 ; 
of Troy, 308 ; of Cooperville, 
310; at Toronto, 314 

Annexation association , The Mon- 
treal, organization of, 134 ; in 
need of funds, 163 ; its decay, 
288 ; takes part in Sherbrooke 
election, 291 

Annexation associations : at Que- 
bec, 182 ; in Eastern Town- 
ships, 196; at New York, 
302 ; at Toronto, 314 ; weak- 
ness of, 357 ; disappearance 
of, 360 

Assembly, The, standing of 
parties, 334 ; debate on in- 
dependence, 337 ; debate on 
the dismissals, 338 ; debate 
on annexation, 339 

Avenir, L', discusses advant- 
ages of annexation, 69, 70 ; 
approves of manifesto, 131 ; 
supports Clear Grits, 263 ; 
triticizes Earl Grey, 269 ; 

accuses Lord Elgin of bribing 
the R. C. bishops, 300 

Badgley, M.P., defends the 
Annexationists, 340 

Baldwin, Hon. Robt., his posi- 
tion, 142 ; letter to P. Perry, 
143 ; his action on Prince 
petition, 336 

Bathurst Township Grand Jury 
opposes annexation, 237 

Brattleborough Whig, The, nj 

Belleville, A meeting at, 233 

Bellingham, Sydney, issues pro- 
spectus of an £innexation 
journal, 74 

Benjamin, G., Orange Grand 
Master, 233 

Benson, Jas. R., letter to W. H. 
Merritt, 21 

Blaquidre, Hon. P. B. de, 336 

Bonding privilege granted by 
the U.S., 24 

Boulton, H. J.. 349 

Boulton,W. H., 210 

British American League, The, 
origin of, 53 ; address to the 
pubUc, 54 ; annexationists in 
Montreal branch, 55 ; a branch 
formed at Quebec, 56 ; loyalty 
of branches in Upper Canada, 
59 ; convention at Kingston, 
61 ; discussion of annexation, 
61-3 ; federal union endorsed, 
64, 240 ; address adopted by 
convention, 65 ; conference 
with Colonial Association of 
New Brunswick, 240 ; conven- 
tion at Toronto, 241 ; dis- 
cussion of annexation, 243 ; 
meeting of Montreal branch. 




254; Camden branch, 255; 
branches in Upper Canada 
opposed to annexation, 255 
British Possessions Act, 14 
Brochville Recorder, The, 237 
Brockville Statesman, The, 238 
Brooklyn Star, The, 382 
Buchanan, Isaac, letter to Lon- 
don Times, 14 
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, 

The, 383 
Burlington Courier, The, 377, 378 
Burlington Sentinel, The, 377 
By town Gazette, The, opposes 

annexation, 239 
Bytown Packet, The, describes 
annexation party, 81 ; op- 
poses annexation, 238 

Cahoes, annexation meeting at, 


Cameron, Hon. Malcolm, dis- 
cusses annexation, 97, 337 ; 
protests to Montreal Witness, 
144; signs protest, 146 ; resigns 
position in Cabinet, 256 ; 
special mission to Washington, 
332 ; supports Col. Prince, 
337 ; approves of dismissals, 

Canadian Corn Act, The, 1 1 

Canadian Free Press, The, 231 

Canadian Independent, The, 
founded, 91 ; approves of the 
manifesto, 221 

Canadien, Le, criticizes the mani- 
festo, 117; discusses Earl 
Grey's despatch, 272 ; criti- 
cizes third manifesto, 277 

Cartier (Sir), George E., de- 
nounced by Papineau organs, 

Chabot, Hon. J., 146 ; candi- 
date in Quebec election, 186, 

Chicago Dollar Newspaper, The, 

Chiniquy, Father, letter of , 174 

Church, The, opposes annexa- 
tion, 185, 223 

Clear Grits, The, dissatisfied with 
the Government, 256 ; origin 
of annexation movement 
among. 258, 357 

Clergy Reserves, The, 258 
Cleveland, Mr., candidate in 

Sherbrooke, 291 
Cobden, Richard, his Bradford 

speech, 267 
Cobourg, meeting at, 232 
Cobourg Star, The, 233 
Colby, Dr., address of, 85 
Commercial distress in Canada, 


Corby, H., 233 

Corn Laws, The aboUtion of, 13 

Counter manifestos issued : at 
Montreal, 145 ; at Quebec, 
184 ; at Toronto, 209 ; re- 
vised counter manifesto at 
Toronto, ,211 

Courier des Etats-Unis, Le, sums 
up the situation in Canada, 7 1 

Crampton, Mr., 329 

Davignon, Dr., 199-201 

De Bleury, Hon. S., letter of, 135 

Democrats, The attitude of the 

Northern, 376 
De Witt, M.P., Jacob, 128, 134, 

137, 154 
Dismissal of officials, 154, 338 
Dix, Senator, speech on Reci- 
procity Bill, 38 
Dixon, Dr., description of 
Canada in 1849, 40; quoted 
in second manifesto, 173 
Dorion, A. A., 136, 179, 204 
Draper, Judge, speech to grand 

jury, 312 
Drummond, Mr., 146, 349 
Duggan, Geo., 252 
Duggan, J., 252 
Dumfries Recorder, The, 232 
Dundas Warder, The, 313 
Dundee Advertiser, The, 168 
Durham, Lord, Report of, 3 ; 
quoted in second manifesto, 

Eastern Townships, The peculiar 
position of, 192 ; local an- 
nexation associations formed. 
196 ; rally at St. Athanase, 
199 ; local association at St. 
Armond, 202 ; meeting at St. 
Edouard, 203 

Echo des Campagnes, L', op- 



poses annexation, 133 ; con- 
demns dismissals, 155; changes 
its policy, 301 
Economist, The, 360, 368 
Elgin, Lord, establishes re- 
sponsible government, 4 ; 
signs Rebellion Losses Bill, 
and is attacked by mob, 9 ; 
supported by the Whig 
Ministry, 10 ; describes con- 
dition of Canada, 22 ; protests 
against Navigation Laws, 26 ; 
describes agitation for an- 
nexation, 48 ; makes a tour 
of Canada West, 98 ; des- 
patch re annexation, 159 ; 
despatch concerning loyalty of 
Niagara district, 226 ; des- 
patch criticizing speech of 
Lord John Russell, 280 ; des- 
patch concerning Sherbrooke 
election, 298 ; despatch con- 
cerning importance of re- 
ciprocity, 331 ; explains diffi- 
culty of passing Reciprocity 
Bill in U.S. Congress, 334 ; 
speech at opening of the As- 
sembly, 335 ; his influence with 
the Reformers, 354 ; he culti- 
vates the friendship of the 
French -Canadians, 355 
England, The early commercial 
policy of, 10 

Ferguson, Hon. A., 336 
FUnt, Bella, 233 
French-Canadian loyalty, 146, 
190, 355 

Gait, A, T., requisition to, 193 ; 
letter endorsing annexation, 
193 ; resignation, 291 

Gamble, J. W., 63, 241 

Gazette de Quibec, La, criticizes 
the manifesto, 181 

Gladstone, Hon. W, E., assists 
Sir Allan MacNab, 9 

Glasgow Daily News, The, 368 

Goodhue, Hon. J. G., 229 

Gore District Council, The, op- 
poses annexation, 225 

Gowan, Mr., 58, 62, 245 et 

Great Britain, the attitude of. 

towards annexation move- 
ment, 364 et seq. 

Grey, Earl, speech on Naviga- 
tion Laws, ss ; his chciracter, 
268 ; despatch concerning 
annexation, 268 ; effect of his 
despatch. 269 ; criticized by 
The Halifax Colonist, 361 

Grimsby League, The, opposes 
annexation, 226, 242 

Guelph and Gait Advertiser, The, 
opposes annexation, 96, 232 

Gugy, Col., speech on Rebelhon 
Losses Bill, 7 ; commends the 
Government for dismissals, 
340 ; criticizes fellow Tories, 

Halifax Colonist, The, 361 
Hamilton, delegate to League 

Convention, 59 
Hamilton Journal and Express, 

The, 96, 224, 262 
Hamilton Provincialist, The, 

257,258, 261 
Hamilton Spectator, The, vraxns 

EngUsh authorities, 7 ; op- 
poses annexation, 59 
Hamilton Spirit of the Age, The, 

favours annexation. 225 
Hincks, Hon. Francis, opposes 

Annexationists, 147 ; Letter 

to Crosby, 147 ; attacks the 

League, 311; speeches in the 

Assembly, 338 
Holmes, M.P., Benjamin, speech 

in support of annexation, 137 ; 

dismissed, 154; defends liis 

action, 154; speeches in the 

Assembly, 342, 346 
Holmes, Young, and Knapp, 

letter re annexation, 30 , 
Holton, L. H., signs manifesto, 

Hope, Dr., 233 
Hopkins, Caleb, 256 
Huron Signal, The, 231 

Independent, The — see Canadian 

Independent Canadian, L', 
founded, 84 ; ceased publica- 
tion, 301 

Johnston, F. G., 56, 140 



Jones, Hon. Robt., supports 
annexation, 114, 139; dis- 
missed, 154 

Journal de Quibec, Le, opposes 
annexation, 7^ ; hostile to the 
manifesto, 181; criticizes Earl 
Grey, 272 

Journal des Trots Riviires, Le, 
hostile to annexation, 192 

Kingston Age, The, opposes an- 
nexation, 236 

Kingston Argus, The, announces 
signing of a manifesto, 6 ; 
favours annexation, 235 

Kingston British American, The, 
opposes annexation, 234 

Kingston British Whig, The, dis- 
cusses annexation, 97, 235, 

Kingston Chronicle and News, 
The, discusses annexation, 99, 


Kingston Herald, The, on signers 
of Montreal manifesto, 116; 
opposes annexation, 236 ; on 
Earl Grey's despatch, 313 

Kirby, Wm,, attacks the An- 
nexationists, 227M. 

Kneeshaw, Richard, signs To- 
ronto manifesto, 322 

Labouchere, Hon. H., speech on 
Navigation Laws, 31 

Lafontaine-Baldwin ministry 
formed, 4 ; its difficulties, 
5 et seq. 

Lanark and Renfrew Reform 
Association, 237 

Lanctot, Mr., 204 

Legar6, Jos., candidate in Que- 
bec election, 187, 191 

Legislative Council, The, passes 
loyal address, 336 

LesUe, Col., 152 

Liverpool Mercury, The, 370 

London Daily News, The, 172 

London Examiner, The, 369 

London Globe, The, 368 

London Illustrated News, The, 169 

London (C. W.), meeting of pro- 
test at, 228 

London Morning Advertiser, The, 

London Morning Chronicle, The, 

London Morning Herald, The, 

London Morning Post, The, 371 
London (C. W.) Pioneer, The, 230 
London (C. W.) Times, The, 8, 

London Times, The, its opinion 
of Sir A. MacNab, 9 ; letter 
of correspondent, 14, 160 ; 
quoted in second manifesto, 
166, 167, 175 ; attitude to- 
wards annexation, 8, 365 
London Weekly Dispatch, The, 

Long Point A dvocate. The, 262 

McConnell, M.P., requisition to, 
and reply, 197, 198 ; defends 
annexation movement in As- 
sembly, 344 

Macdonald, Sir John A., ex- 
planation concerning his re- 
fusal to sign the manifesto, 

McDonald, Roland, 250 

MacDougal, Wm., 256 

McKay, Robert, 140 

MacKenzie, William Lyon, op- 
poses annexation, 264 

MacNab, Sir Allan, mission to 
England, 9 ; speeches on 
annexation in the Assembly, 

339. 347 

Macpherson, D. L., signs mani- 
festo, 114 

Manchester School, The, and the 
colonies, 45 ; views of Cana- 
dian parties about, 47 

Maritime Provinces, The, an- 
nexation movement in, 361 
et seq. 

Milanges Religieux, Les, 174, 273 

Merritt, W. H., advocates re- 
ciprocity, 21 ; goes on special 
mission to Washington, 328 ; 
speech concerning reciprocity, 

Metcalfe, Sir Chas., re-establishes 

the old r6gime, 3, 4 
Miller, delegate to the League 

Convention, 248 
Minerve, La, opposes annexa- 



tion, 72, 78 ; criticizes the 

manifesto, 133 
Miramichi Gleaner, The, 362 
Missisquoi News, The, 293 
Moffatt, Hon. Geo., Head of 

British American League, 54, 

87. 254 

Molson, Hon. John, 154 

Molson, William and John, sign 
manifesto, 114 

Moniteur Canadian, Le, sup- 
ports annexation, 70 

Montreal Board of Trade, peti- 
tion to the Queen in 1848, 27 

Montreal Courier, The, ready to 
welcome civil war, 5 ; edi- 
torials about annexation, 75, 
103, 105 ; editorial about in- 
dependence, 76 ; pleads for 
funds, 163 ; praises Cobden, 
267 ; criticizes Earl Grey, 
270 ; modifies its views, 289 ; 
appeals to Clear Grits to lead 
against the Government, 335 

Montreal Free Traders, The pro- 
test of, 29 

Montreal Gazette, The, editorials 
about annexation. 31, 47, 74, 
82 ; about independence, 76, 
123 ; about discontent, 53 ; 
about the preparation of the 
manifesto, 104, 117, 120; 
about dismissals, 152; criticizes 
annexation association, 180; 
supports British Government, 
272, 278 ; on decay of annexa- 
tion movement, 288 ; opposes 
Annexationists m Sherbrooke 
election, 292; on Toronto 
manifesto, 322 ; sees danger 
of civil war in the U.S., 359 

Montreal Herald, The, editorials 
about annexation, 47, 102, 
118; about independence, 
80, 93 ; criticizes Earl Grey, 
269, 270 ; ceases its agitation 
for annexation, 289 ; on the 
disappearance of The Inde- 
pendent, 326 ; advises co- 
operation with Clear Grits, 335 

Montreal municipal election. The, 
286 et seq. 

Montreal New Era, The, op- 
poses annexation, 127 

Montreal Pilot, The, opposes an- 
nexation, 77 ; criticizes the 
manifesto, 116, 127 et seq.; 
approves of dismissals, 1 56 ; 
supports British Government, 
129, 130; opposes Annexa- 
tionists in Sherbrooke elec- 
tion, 292 

Montreal Transcript, The, dis- 
cusses the League, 66 ; op- 
poses annexation, 77, 124 
et seq. ; on annexation press, 
115 ; criticizes manifesto, 


Montreal Witness, The, favours 
annexation, 7, 8, 103, 123 ; 
criticizes Earl Grey, 271 ; 
alarmed by Fugitive Slave 
Law, 359 

Morin, Mr., 146 

Mountain, Bishop, issues pas- 
toral letter, 185 

Moyle, Henry, 330 

Navigation Laws, The, effect on 
Canadian trade, 23 ; demand 
for repeal of, 24 ; discussion 
in British Pariiament, 31 
et seq. 

Nelson, Dr. Wolf red, opposes 
annexation in the Assembly, 

New Brunswicker, The, 362 
New York Courier and Inquirer, 

The, 381 
New York Herald, The, reports 

condition of affairs in Canada 

in 1846, 16; in 1849, 73; 

not willing to aid rebellion, 


New York Legislative Assembly, 
The, passes resolutions in 
favour of annexation, 379 

New York Post, The, a corres- 
pondent describes the Annexa- 
tionists, 162 

Niagara, The town of, opposes 
annexation, 225 

Niagara District Council, The, 
opposes annexation, 225 

North British Mail, The, 368 

Nova Scotian, The, 362 

Orangemen loyal, The, 158 ; 
letter of Grand Master, 158 



Oswego Commercial Times, The, 

Papin, Rouge leader, 199, 203, 

Papineau, L. J., his republican 
views, 67 ; his political affilia- 
tions, I, 68, 133 ; letters con- 
cerning annexation, 134, 183 ; 
supports Col. Prince, 337 ; 
supports annexation in the 
Assembly, 344 

Parti Rouge, Le, its formation, 
68 ; its policy, 69 

Perry, Peter, 142, 250, 256, 260 
et seq. ; candidate in Third 
Riding of York, 259 

Peterborough Dispatch, The, 236, 


Playiair, Col., 253 

Preferential Trade between 
Canada and Great Britain, 10 
et seq.; results of, 12 etseq.; 
abolition of, 13 e< seq.; letter 
of Isaac Buchanan about, 14 

Prescott Telegraph, The, favours 
annexation, 239 

Price, Hon. Jas., petition to, 223 

Prince, Col., letter favouring in- 
dependence, 324 ; draws up 
a petition, 325 ; presents a 
petition in favour of inde- 
pendence, 366 ; speeches in the 
Assembly, 337, 343, 345 

Protest of Liberal members 
against the manifesto. The, 


Protest of loyal citizens of Mon- 
treal — see Counter Manifestos 

Punch in Canada, opposes an- 
nexation, 130 

Quebec Board of Trade, The, 
protests against abolition of 
preferential trade, 15. 16 

Quebec Chronicle, The, opposes 
annexation, 84 ; criticizes 
manifesto, 180; neutral in 
election, 189 

Quebec election, The, 187 et seq. 

Quebec Gazette, The, opposes an- 
nexation policy, 83, 191 ; 
neutral in election, 189 

Quebec Mercury, The, opposes 
annexation, 84 ; criticizes dis- 
missals, 155 ; criticizes mani- 
festo, 181 ; supports annexa- 
tion candidate, 189 

Radical attitude towards Can- 
ada, The English, 44 

Rebellion of 1837, 2 

Rebellion Losses Bill, effect of 
its introduction, 9 ; signed, 9 

Reciprocity with the United 
States, sought by Canada, 19 ; 
advocated by W. H. Merritt, 
21 ; petition of Canadian 
Parliament in 1846, 36 ; Bill 
passed House of Representa- 
tives, 37 ; desired by American 
traders, 37 ; the Dix Bill, 38 ; 
Resolution and Bill passed by 
Canadian ParUament in 1849, 
40 ; W. H. Merritt sent to 
Washington, 328 ; Hon. M. 
Cameron sent to Washington, 
332 ; Bills introduced into 
Congress by Mr. McLean and 
Senator Douglas, 333 

Redpath, John, signs first mani- 
festo, 1 14 ; speech on annexa- 
tion, 136; President of An- 
nexation Association, 141 ; 
signs second manifesto, 164 ; 
answer to T. Wilson, 254 ; 
signs third manifesto, 277 

Reform Party, condition of, in 
1849, so 

Robertson, Hon. John, 240 

Robinson, H. C, speech on Navi- 
gation Laws, 32 

Roebuck, J. A., explains position 
of Whigs, 17 ; quoted in 
second manifesto, 176 

Rolph, Dr. John, 256 

Rose, John, speech in favour of 
annexation, 139 ; dismissed, 
154; defends himself, 155 

Russell, Lord John, defines op- 
position to responsible govern- 
ment, 2 ; instructions to 
Lord Sydenham, 3 ; permits 
Rebellion Losses Bill to go 
into operation, 75 ; discusses 
annexation movement, 278 



it. Catherine' s Constitutional, 

The, opposes annexation, 228 
St. Catherine's Journal, The, 

discusses annexation, 226, 227; 

advocates reciprocity, 226 
St. Francis Telegraph, The, 

Sanborn, Mr., M.P., Annexation 

candidate in Sherbrooke, 291 ; 

speech, 291, 294 ; his election, 

296 ; speeches in Assembly, 

341, 346 
Savageau. Dr., 206, 207 
Scott, Gen. Winfield, 375 
Seignorial tenure, 301 
Sharon, Reform meeting at, 

Sherbrooke election. The, 291 

et seq. 
Sherbrooke Gazette, The, 293 
Sherwood, Hon. H., 220 
Simmons, C, 240 
Slavery issue, The, 332, 359 
Stanley, Lord, secures passage 

of Canadian Com Act, 11 ; 

speech on Navigation Laws, 

Stanstead Journal, The, 293 
Steubenville Herald, The, 381 
Stratford, meeting and address 

at, 230 
Sydenham, Lord, speech to Par- 
liament of 1841, 3 

Taylor, H., 136 

Thompson, Col., 262 

Three Rivers, annexation meet- 
ing a failure at, 191 

Toledo Blade, The, 384 

Toronto Board of Trade, speech 
of President Workman, 15 ; 
annual report of council of, 

Toronto Colonist, The, threatens 
annexation, 7 ; discusses an- 
nexation, 87, 213 ; criticizes 
the Government, 94 ; criti- 
cizes dismissals, 155 ; criti- 
cizes the manifesto, 214 ; dis- 
cusses Perry election, 262 ; 
criticizes Earl Grey, 313 

Toronto Examiner, The, dis- 

cusses annexation, 90, 95 ; 
criticizes the dismissals, 155 ; 
criticizes the manifesto, 218 
et seq. ; opposes the Govern- 
ment, 256 ; discusses Sher- 
brooke election, 297 ; criti- 
cizes Earl Grey, 313 ; dis- 
cusses Toronto manifesto, 323 ; 
discusses Reciprocity, 330 

Toronto Globe, The, its opinion 
of the Tories, 8, 60 ; of the 
Montreal Tory press, 77 ; op- 
poses annexation, 89, 215, 
217 ; on failure of annexation 
movement, 327 

Toronto Independent, The, reports 
growth of annexation senti- 
ment, 324 ; ceases pubhca- 
tion, 201 ; advises co-opera- 
tion with the Clear Grits, 326 

Toronto Mirror, The, supports 
annexation, 220 ; disapproves 
of the issuing of a manifesto 
in Toronto, 314 

Toronto Patriot, The, opposes 
annexation, 8, 88, 212 ; de- 
fends the Tory party, 311 

Torrance, David, signs mani- 
festo, 114 

Torrance, William, signs manl 
festo, 114 

Tory attitude towards Canada, 
The English, 9, 32, 372 

Tory Party, The condition of the, 
in 1849, 49 

United States, The attitude of 
the, towards annexation, 374 
et seq. 

United States Government, The 
attitude of the, 358, 380 

Vermont Legislature, Proceed 

ings of the, 170 
Vermont poUtical conventions, 

resolutions of, 377 

Whig attitude towards Canada, 

The, 4, 10, 360, 371 
Whitby Freeman, The, 323 
Willson, H. B., 59 ; issues the 

prospectus of The Canadian 



Independent, 91 ; signs To- 
ronto manifesto, 322 ; starts 
a tour of Western Canada, 324 
Wilson. John, speech at London, 
229 ; resignation and re- 
election, 310, 311 

Wilson, Thos., speaks at opening 
of League in Quebec, 56 ; his 
views, 57; letter to J, Red- 
dath, 253 

' ' Young Canada ' ' Party, The, 355 

PtinUd by H»mM, Watton & Vinty, Ld., London and Aylssbury, SftgUnd, 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 

JAN 2 2 ,^3^ 
^^C6 ,936 

-"^''^ 1936 


MAY 8 ,96 


JUN ^r^gj^fENEv^ABi^ j[^pR 11 197} 

OCT i: ->^ 



jj^f 7 1948 

MAY 81973 

'^ 1 2 I9?y 

^^^^ AUG 14 1959 

iSi OCT 3077 

JM 4 196 
MAY 1 7 1962 

terro wen 

APR2 7 1962 

Form L-9-] Orr> ' 

■- f 






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